Holocaust Icons: Symbolizing the Shoah in History and Memory 9780813574059

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Holocaust Icons: Symbolizing the Shoah in History and Memory

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Holocaust Icons

Holocaust Icons Symbolizing the Shoah in History and Memory


Rutgers University Press New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London

Library of Congress Cataloging-­in-­Publication Data Stier, Oren Baruch, 1966–­author. Holocaust icons : symbolizing the Shoah in history and memory / Oren Baruch Stier. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978–­0–­8135–­7403–­5 (hardcover : alk. paper)—­ ISBN 978–­0–­8135–­7402–­8 (pbk. : alk. paper)—­ ISBN 978–­0–­8135–­7404–­2 (e-­book (epub))—­ ISBN 978–­0–­8135–­7405–­9 (e-­book (web pdf )) 1. Holocaust, Jewish (1939–­1945)—­Influence. 2. Holocaust, Jewish (1939–­1945)—­Historiography. 3. Semiotics—­Social aspects. 4. Signs and symbols—­Social aspects. 5. Memorialization—­Social aspects. 6. Collective memory. I. Title. D804.3.S793 2015 940.53'18—­dc23 2014046190 A British Cataloging-­in-­Publication record for this book is available from the British Library. Copyright © 2015 by Oren Baruch Stier All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Please contact Rutgers University Press, 106 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. The only exception to this prohibition is “fair use” as defined by U.S. copyright law. Visit our website: http://​rutgerspress​.rutgers​.edu Manufactured in the United States of America

For Danielle


List of Figures Preface and Acknowledgments Introduction: Holocaust Symbols: The Shapes of Memory 1


ix xiii 1

Different Trains: Holocaust Artifacts and the Ideologies of Remembrance


Thresholds of Initiation: “Arbeit Macht Frei”


From Innocence to Experience: An Icon Comes of Age Anne Frank as a Literary Icon Anne Frank as a Visual Icon

100 102 119

The Holocaust as an Iconic Number: Six Million




Conclusion: Looking Again at Holocaust Icons


Notes 193 Selected Bibliography 223 Index 231


Female prisoners sort through shoes at a warehouse in Auschwitz-­Birkenau, May 1944



Poster, Silence=Death (1987)



Samuel Bak, Alone (1995)



Homomonument, Amsterdam (1987)



Tom Sachs, Manischewitz Luger (1996)



Jews await selection on the ramp at Auschwitz-­Birkenau, May 1944


Reconstructed portion of Holocaust-­era railway car, Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance


Installation of Holocaust-­era railway car at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum construction site, Washington, DC, February 9, 1991


Suitcases belonging to Jewish death camp deportees, beside the railcar display at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum


Child’s or woman’s ring, on display at the Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL







x • Figures

Railway car in the atrium of the Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL


Tzedaka (charity) box replica of a Holocaust-­era railway car, formerly available at the gift shop, Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL


Moshe Safdie, Memorial to the Deportees (1995), Yad Vashem, Jerusalem


Robert Kuśmirowski, Wagon (2006), installation at the 4th Berlin Biennial, “Of Mice and Men,” Berlin, 2006



Flossenburg, Germany, May 3, 1945



Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia, Gestapo prison called the “Small Fortress,” 1939


Dachau, Germany, concentration camp gate, April–­August 1945



“Arbeit macht frei” gate at Auschwitz I, May 11–­­25, 1945



Still photo from Soviet film The Liberation of Auschwitz 1945 82


Still photo from Soviet film The Liberation of Auschwitz 1945 82


Frank Stella, Arbeit Macht Frei (1967)



Arrival at Auschwitz I, from Maus by Art Spiegelman



Judy Chicago, Arbeit Macht Frei/Work Makes Who Free? from the Holocaust Project (1992)


Casting of the Auschwitz I gate, US Holocaust Memorial Museum


Entrance to display on slave labor, Holocaust Memorial Center, Farmington Hills, MI


Cover of the cloth edition of Melvin Jules Bukiet, Nothing Makes You Free (2002)


Conservators examine the pieces of the “Arbeit macht frei” sign following its recovery, Auschwitz-­Birkenau State Museum, Poland











Figures • xi


Anne Frank’s first diary notebook



Dust jacket of the first US edition of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (1952)



Page spread from Anne Frank’s first autograph book


Annelies Marie Frank, winter 1941–­1942


Inside cover of Anne Frank’s first autograph book


Cover of the 1967 paperback edition of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (1952)


Anne Frank, Montessori school photograph, Amsterdam, winter 1940



Anne Frank, Merwedeplein, Amsterdam, 1941



Anne Frank, Zandvoort, The Netherlands, August 1934



Anne Frank, Singel, Amsterdam, winter 1935



Anne Frank, May 1942



Age-­progressed photograph of Anne Frank



“Remember what Amalek did to Thee! Collect and Record!” Central Historical Commission, Munich, US Zone of Germany, 1947


Cloth banner in Yiddish from the DP camps




122–123 124 126–127

Preface and Acknowledgments

It all started with the railway cars. I do not mean that the Holocaust started there, though it accelerated once railcars were deployed to transport human beings like chattel to conveniently located murder factories. I mean that this project started some years ago while I was writing my first book, on institutionalized Holocaust remembrance and communal commitments to that remembrance, and I began thinking about the curious, repetitive use of these “goods wagons” as artifacts in memorial and museum settings. I wrote about four of them (they return here) and used them to develop a notion of iconic as opposed to idolatrous representation. As I continued to explore and publish on this recurring railcar motif, I began to make lists of other things that might be considered iconic, and this book was, in a way, born: the items on those lists multiplied, life intervened, and it took longer to whittle the project down to manageable size than I anticipated. This book is a follow-­up and companion to my first: if the earlier volume focused on macrolevel memorialization, this one concentrates on the microlevel, on the building blocks of Holocaust remembrance. These Holocaust icons, as I refer to them, are the tools we use to think about and reflect on the Shoah and its presence in our lives. I have identified four of them, exemplifying a range of possible representational forms. A toolbox with only four items might seem meager, not much more than a starter kit xiii

xiv • Preface and Acknowledgments

for a new homeowner perhaps, but I believe it is deceptively small; in actuality, each of the tools I describe and analyze here surprises with its many uses, like a multipronged Swiss Army knife or some all-­purpose device sold only on late-­night television. It falls to me now to thank everyone who provided assistance through the long gestation of this book. If I could only remember all of their names! This book was made possible thanks to my tenure as a fellow at what is now the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies (the Mandel Center) at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM); I am grateful for the collegial spirit at what I still tell my colleagues is academic paradise, and for the particular intellectual exchange with several scholars with whom I overlapped during my fellowship period: Jennifer Jordan, Stuart Liebman, Dirk Rupnow, and especially David Shneer, whose engagement with my work continues to the present. Members of the Mandel Center staff were also enormously helpful, and I thank them: Benton Arnowitz, Victoria Barnett, Suzanne Brown-­Fleming, Robert Ehrenreich, Aleisa Fishman, Paul Shapiro, and Lisa Zaid. Additionally, I am grateful for the assistance provided me by Judith Cohen, director, Photographic Reference Collection, USHMM. I also acknowledge with thanks the research support provided by a Florida International University Foundation/Provost’s Office Faculty Research Award and two Florida International University (FIU) College of Arts and Sciences summer research grants. At FIU I have received the steady encouragement of my colleagues in the Department of Religious Studies; I would like to thank in particular Christine Gudorf, who suggested critical readings on Christian icons; Tudor Parfitt, who prodded me at the right time to finish the book; Whitney Bauman, my ever-­willing coffee partner; department chair Erik Larson, who agreed to some flexible scheduling of classes to allow me more uninterrupted time to write; and my mentor Steven Heine, master of Daijobu, from whose steadfast advice I have benefited immeasurably. I am also grateful to Stephanie Brenenson, FIU research librarian extraordinaire, for her uncanny ability and creativity in locating and securing sorely needed materials and information. This book would not have been possible without the support, feedback, and encouragement of Marlie Wasserman at Rutgers University Press, who never once balked at the prospect of publishing a book with over forty figures: it is a rare pleasure for an author to have as his sponsoring editor the director of the press, and her guidance and decisive hand have helped enormously in keeping things on track. Thanks as well to Anne Hegeman,

Preface and Acknowledgments • xv

without whose timely attention to my many image-­related queries I would not have managed to get it all together, to Paula Friedman for her expert copyediting, and to Marilyn Campbell, Allyson Fields, and Carrie Hudak at the press for efficiently handling my many queries and concerns regarding the preparation of the manuscript. Portions of this book were presented at the annual meetings of the Association for Jewish Studies and the American Academy of Religion, and I appreciate the feedback I received from participants. I also thank colleagues and audiences at several universities and Holocaust institutions around the United States where parts of this book were performed: University of Miami, Florida Atlantic University, Lehigh University, Temple University, University of Vermont, Vassar College, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, University of Denver, Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida/ Florida Gulf Coast University, Texas Christian University, Dallas Holocaust Museum, Hofstra University, and the USHMM. I am especially thankful for the opportunity to present my research at several more specialized gatherings: the Judaism and Postmodern Culture Colloquium at the Berman Center for Jewish Studies, Lehigh University; the “Imaging the Unimaginable: The Iconicization of Auschwitz” conference, University of Florida; and “The Social Lives of Jewish Numbers” conference at the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan. My deepest thanks to the organizers of these more intimate gatherings for inviting me and for the fruitful conversations engendered there: Laurence Silberstein at Lehigh, and Nora Alter and Jack Kugelmass at the University of Florida; to Michal Kravel-­Tovi and Deborah Dash Moore at the University of Michigan, I express my gratitude as well for essential feedback on what became chapter 4 in this volume. Research for chapter 1 was enhanced by discussions with the following individuals currently or formerly affiliated with institutions examined therein: Sara Abosch, Jack Altman, Elly Dlin, Mike and Ginger Jacobs, Max Glauben, and Mindy Rubinstein at what is now called the Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center for Education and Tolerance (DHMCET, formerly the Dallas Holocaust Museum); Steve Goldman at the Florida Holocaust Museum; and Jeff Carter, Steven Luckert, Warren Marcus, and Shari Werb at the USHMM. I also want to thank Alfred Gottwaldt, senior curator of railways at the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, for his voluminous knowledge of German railcars and for the time he spent sharing it with me during my engaging visit there. While researching chapter 3, I benefited greatly from the archival resources and assistance of René Blekman and Yt Stoker and from discussions with Rian Verhoeven and Hans Westra, all

xvi • Preface and Acknowledgments

of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Chapter 4 was enriched through e-­mail exchanges with Patricia Heberer Rice, historian, and Peter Black, senior historian, at the USHMM, for whose assistance I am grateful. As readers will see, this volume relies heavily on a series of figures that illustrate and explicate many of the ideas conveyed herein. I could not have even considered including so many were it not for financial support from Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation; I wish to thank especially founder Aryeh Rubin and program director Andrea Gollin for their support for this book. In addition I am grateful for Andrea Gollin’s encouragement throughout its production, from helping me secure an image to providing critical feedback on the manuscript and even assisting with the marketing blurb. In my search for the most appropriate images, the assistance of the following individuals and the institutions they represent was invaluable, and in many cases my request for an item led to rewarding discussions about the figures and their roles and uses: Judith Cohen and Caroline Waddell (USHMM), Reed Vreeland (ACT UP/NY), Amy Silverman (The Wolfsonian-­FIU), Destiny Barletta (Pucker Gallery), Maaike van den Berg (Stichting Homomonument), Daniel Caputo (Tom Sachs Studio), Sara Abosch and Paula Nourse (DHMCET), Elena Sanderlin (Florida Holocaust Museum), Maaty Frenkelzon and Michael Tal (Yad Vashem), Aleksandra Sciegienna (Foksal Gallery Foundation), Paweł Sawicki (Auschwitz-­Birkenau State Museum), J’Aimee Cronin (Artists Rights Society), Thomas Dobrowolski (The Wylie Agency), Bette Graber (Random House), Louise Emslie-­Smith (Penguin Books, UK), Liz Kurtulik Mercuri and Peter Rohowsky (Art Resource), Stephen Goldman and Lawrence Willim (Holocaust Memorial Center, Michigan), Elizabeth Clementson (W. W. Norton & Co.), Alicia M. Dercole (Doubleday), Emanuel Craciunescu (phojoe​.com), and Sascha Pohflepp. A very special thank you to Miguel Asencio in Media Technology Services at FIU, for preparing digital scans of several of the images. Finally, special words of thanks are due to Barbara Eldridge at the Anne Frank Fonds, who not only took care of my large request for photographs with care and diligence but also kindly responded to all my e-­mail queries with more information than I could have ever hoped for. I would be remiss if I did not express my gratitude to those friends and colleagues who, over the years, have read and responded to my work, replied to my questions, schmoozed over a beer, or generally encouraged me at various stages of the project: Michael Berenbaum, Laura Brahm, Olga Gershenson, Andrea Gollin, Steven Heller, Leah Hochman, Edward T. Linenthal,

Preface and Acknowledgments • xvii

Avi Patt, David Shneer, Gerrold van der Stroom, James E. Young; I am grateful as well to the anonymous reviewer of the manuscript for helpful feedback. I thank Jay Geller especially for conversations long ago that influenced my thinking about Anne Frank as a Holocaust icon. And I express my deepest gratitude to Laura Levitt, the other reviewer of the manuscript, for her detailed, insightful, and encouraging comments; it is no exaggeration to say that I do not think I would be in academia were it not for Laura’s offer of friendship long ago. To those whose names I have inadvertently left out, I apologize for the omission and thank you nonetheless. Writing this book has been taxing at times, and I am grateful for the diversions offered by my many friends in South Florida and elsewhere: it is impossible to name and thank them all, but I will single out Fred Klein, Stephen Korn, Marc Shandler, and Hod and Chaya Tamir for special recognition; additionally, Levi Kahane read a draft of the manuscript and shared his wisdom on, and fascination with, the phenomena I analyze here. The last months of work were particularly challenging, and I thank Dr. David Berkower, Rabbi David Botton, and Nancy Croughwell for tending to my physical wellbeing. I wish to acknowledge as well the fellowship of the other members of Rabbi Leizer Barash’s Bes Midrash for Chasidus, Yitzchak Kravetz, Matt Lerner, and Jim Reich; and my chavruta, Raphael Bouskila. My thanks as well for the supportive communities of the Beit David Highland Lakes Shul and the Young Israel of Hollywood–­Fort Lauderdale, and to the Kasdin and Weiss members of my extended family for never asking “When will the book be finished?” I am grateful for the support and encouragement of my parents, Jochanan and Rina Stier, and the resilience and understanding of my children, Noa Gavrielle and Shmuel Dov: now I will have more time for you all! I dedicate this book to my wife, partner, and best friend, Danielle, whose patience has been stretched to the limits in the final months of this endeavor, and whose confidence in me never flagged: thank you for making it possible for me to complete it. —­Hollywood, FL, Erev Yom Kippur, 5775/October 3, 2014 The author gratefully acknowledges permission to reprint the following material: Excerpts from The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture after the Holocaust, by Marianne Hirsch. Copyright © 2012 Columbia University Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

xviii • Preface and Acknowledgments

“Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway Car,” by Dan Pagis, published in The Selected Poetry of Dan Pagis, edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell. Copyright © 1996 The Regents of the University of California. Used with permission. An early version of chapter 1 was published as “Different Trains: Holocaust Artifacts and the Ideologies of Remembrance,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 19, no. 1 (spring 2005): 81–­106. Published by Oxford University Press in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Used with permission. Excerpts from “Working through Working,” by Werner Hamacher, trans. Matthew T. Hartman, Modernism/Modernity 3, no. 1 ( January 1996): 27–­ 28, 50. © 1996 The Johns Hopkins University Press. Reprinted with permission of The Johns Hopkins University Press. Excerpts from “Dachau Lied: ‘Arbeit Macht Frei,’” words by Jura Soyfer, music and translation by Herbert Zipper. Copyright © 1993 Verlag Lafite. Reprinted with kind permission of MUSIKZEIT, http://​www​.musikzeit​.at. Excerpt from The Complete Maus: a Survivor’s Tale, by Art Spiegelman. Copyright © 1973, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991 by Art Spiegelman. Used by permission of Pantheon Books, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC (US), Penguin Books Ltd. (UK), and The Wylie Agency LLC. All rights reserved. Any third party use of this material, outside of this publication, is prohibited.  Excerpts from “Misparim” (“Numbers”), by Hadag Nahash. Copyright © 2003 MUSIC 972—­Anana Ltd. Used with permission. Excerpts from Anne Frank: the Book, the Life, the Afterlife by Francine Prose. Copyright © 2009 by Francine Prose. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Excerpts from The Diary of Anne Frank: the Revised Critical Edition by Netherlands Institute for War Documentation. Copyright © Anne Frank Fonds; translation copyright © 2003 by Doubleday, a division of Random House LLC. Used by permission of Doubleday, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, Penguin Books, Ltd., and Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, Switzerland. All rights reserved. The author thanks the USHMM for permission to use images from its collections reproduced in this book. The views or opinions expressed in this book, and the context in which the images are used, do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of, nor imply approval or endorsement by, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Holocaust Icons


Holocaust Symbols The Shapes of Memory A notorious Nazi once said that when he heard the word “culture” he reached for his revolver. Now, it seems, every time we hear the word “Nazi” we reach for our culture. Thus we might protect ourselves from the terror of the Nazi Reich, even as we provide a window into it. It is almost as if the only guarantee against the return of this dreaded past lies in its constant aesthetic sublimation—­in the art, literature, music, and even monuments by which the Nazi era is vicariously recalled by a generation of artists born after, but indelibly shaped by, the Holocaust. —­James E. Young, “Foreword,” Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art


2  •  Holocaust Icons

James Young, the foremost scholar of Holocaust memorial culture, wrote this in an introductory essay to the catalog for the seminal Jewish Museum New York 2002 exhibition Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art. Young’s comments bear broad significance for the project undertaken in this volume: in his view, culture is a refuge and mechanism for the subtle transformation of a fearful and threatening history into more benign forms of appropriation and vicarious engagement. Although my concerns in this book encompass a range of representation wider than Young’s focus on cultural productions by post-­Holocaust artists, his words nonetheless offer a thought-­provoking starting point for this study of key wartime and postwar symbols. How have the various images, phrases, and artifacts we have inherited from the Holocaust been culturally absorbed and sublimated? If this structure of inheritance, which comparative literature scholar and feminist critic Marianne Hirsch has termed “postmemory,” works by “imaginative investment, projection, and creation,”1 how has it become culturally lodged? What are its lingering cultural effects? Among other legacies, the Holocaust bequeathed to contemporary society a cultural lexicon, as it were, of powerful symbols. This is a book about those symbols and the symbolization process; it is about the symbols used culturally to refer, whether directly or obliquely, to the Holocaust, and about how they came to be used in this way. It is in interacting with this symbolic vocabulary that people today, nearly seventy years after World War II’s end, come to feel they know something about the Holocaust. But what do these images and artifacts really communicate? In addition to their emotional impact, these symbols appear to convey the essence of the Holocaust: its bureaucracy, its depravity, its poignancy. But the most common Holocaust symbols do not directly communicate its brutal violence. This is one of the reasons these particular images and artifacts are so recognizable and so powerful: they are representative without being overwhelming, succinct without being too graphic. Most especially, this book is about certain symbols that have come to represent the Holocaust in encapsulated form—­those that summarize complex narratives of the Shoah, simplifying, condensing, and distilling these narratives and producing meanings for cultural consumption: I call these symbols Holocaust icons. They span a range of overlapping cultural representations in material, linguistic, literary, photographic/cinematic, and numeric terms. The icons I have selected, those I think represent the essence of this

Holocaust Symbols • 3

referential process, together with their analysis suggest that it is through the use of iconic symbols that the public meanings and perceptions of the Holocaust are created, even when (and especially when) the distillation process that produces these icons strips out much of the historical context and specificity of each icon. Indeed, the more we see and hear about the Holocaust in the twenty-­first century, the less we seem to actually know. But what if we could restore to these icons their own histories? My project here is to re-­infuse each selected icon with its own past, thus allowing us to better apprehend its significance. My selection of icons relates in part to another mark of Holocaust memorialization and representation in the present, what Hirsch remarks as the “striking repetition of the same very few images, used over and over again  .  .  . emblematically to signal” the Holocaust. Hirsch understands these repeated images as tropes (that is, forms of expression signifying recurring themes) “for Holocaust memory itself. . . . It is as such tropes, and not for their informational value about the Holocaust, whether denotative or connotative, that they are incorporated into the visual landscape of postmemory as pervasively as they are. And, at the same time, the repetition also underscores their figurative role.”2 The four icons I analyze in the central chapters of this book are images that recur and have come to symbolize certain recurring themes: the Holocaust-­era railway car, the “Arbeit macht frei” slogan and gateway, the persona of Anne Frank, and the number “six million.” We come to understand that what sets these icons apart from mere symbols are the ways each one has come to so completely embody and encapsulate the Shoah, allowing each to serve as a metonym for it—­as, that is, an aspect, artifact, or adjunct of the Holocaust that stands in for the whole. This is not a book about Holocaust art, though some works of art, including some about the Holocaust, will be referred to. Rather, this is a book about a selection of symbols—­an object, a phrase, a person, and a number—­originating in the Holocaust era, and about how these have been transformed into icons of the Holocaust and of its memory. I engage this selection of icons on two levels: the first, the historical, places them in their Holocaust (and, in some cases, pre-­Holocaust) context, asking where they came from and what, if anything, they meant when first noted; the second, which might be called the representational or memorial level, places these same items in their post-­Holocaust context, asking how they have been used and appropriated, how they have evolved, how they have been

4  •  Holocaust Icons

reproduced, and to what ends. In other words, I am interested here in both the life and the afterlife of Holocaust symbols. This study begins with a few initial premises:3 1.  There is nothing we know about the Holocaust that has not already been mediated for us by some interpretive methodology and/or some cultural form. With the possible and increasingly rare exception of encountering eyewitness accounts of the events of World War II still being shared, we live in the age of the Holocaust’s cultural aftermath. And even those firsthand accounts are mediated by forms of representation and transmission, shaded by the wearying effects of time and distance from the events remembered. All this is neither new nor surprising, but it is worth noting nonetheless. For it is the mediation of the Holocaust that produces knowledge and awareness of its effects in the present, under the broad rubrics we call cultural memory, public history, and the like. Needless to say, this cannot be understood in any way as to support the offensive and ridiculous claims of Holocaust deniers, who seize on any shred of so-­called evidence to buttress their own refusals to respect the truth of history: mediation is not fabrication. 2.  The Holocaust’s cultural memory matters. That is to say, the entire broad swirl we conveniently refer to as Holocaust memory (an organic metaphor not to be confused with individual remembrance)—­a sense of the meaning of the past in the present reflected in a conglomeration of artistic, literary, cinematic, museological, ritual, documentary, monumental, and other genres of cultural-­memorial acts and activities—­is viewed by Jews, and indeed, by a large cross-­section of the general public in the West, as important, as valuable, as something to be nurtured, cherished, protected: as something sacred. 3.  This memory is something distinct from Holocaust history. Public memory is a distillation of the material of the past, poured into vessels useful in the present. Even though both history and memory select items from the past in their attempts to describe and appropriate it, history tends toward elucidation, clarification, and differentiation, while memory tends toward simplification, mythologization, and identification: that is, toward symbolization. This distillation process is acutely evident in the symbols most commonly used to represent the Holocaust in the contemporary cultural milieu, especially in its icons.

Holocaust Symbols • 5

These premises point to critical issues at the center of the symbolization process, which we might call “authenticity” and “authentication.” Long a concern in Holocaust studies, due to the challenges posed by Holocaust denial, the evidentiary aspect of Holocaust material is a core component of the effectiveness of postwar representation. In short, Holocaust symbols must convey a degree of historical authenticity if they are to be used to communicate the truth of the events they are intended to represent; when such materials are viewed as inauthentic, a cascade of questions are likely to follow, ultimately threatening the viewer’s faith in the veracity of the events depicted. Closely related to this dynamic is the authentication process, in which the authenticity of Holocaust materials is confirmed through their use in memorial applications, even as those uses heighten the truth value of the materials as they refer back to their original contexts. So, for example, Hirsch notes, in comparing Art Spiegelman’s Maus (to which we return in chapter 2) to W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, “Maus, while trenchantly critical of representational regimes and eager to foreground their artifice, remains, at the same time, anxious about the truth and accuracy of the son’s graphic account of the father’s prewar and wartime experiences in Poland. Indeed, in spite of its myriad distancing devices, the work achieves what Andreas Huyssen has called a ‘powerful effect of authentication.’”4 This effect is achieved in part, in this particular case, through Spiegelman’s technique of embedding several family photographs within the comic panels of his work, thus incorporating evidence of the “real” family members depicted into the narrative of their graphic incarnations. But the technique of authentication is not limited to the use of photographs as evidence: whenever authentic Holocaust symbols are embedded within narratives and other modes of representation, they can serve to authenticate that act of representation, just as material artifacts are incorporated into museum exhibitions. Holocaust icons as intensified symbols and as specific embodiments of the Holocaust embody as well this sense of, and process of, authentication in an even stronger way, because they themselves not only refer to the Holocaust but also stand in for it. However, there is a danger inherent in the attempts at representational authentication: if a narrative or other form is itself deemed inauthentic, its incorporation of Holocaust material may result in a de-­authentication of that material. Indeed, as we see in the pages that follow, for each icon I address, there have been cases that threaten to subvert the authentic use of such icons. Some might see

6  •  Holocaust Icons

these uses as abuses, and decry the attempted de-­authentication of these materials; I prefer to see them as additive and generative of postmemorial meanings, enhancing the significance of the icons in question: if they were not so powerful and important, no one would bother to attack them.5

Symbols and Icons The online Oxford English Dictionary defines icon as “a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something.”6 An icon is, then, both a representation and a representative. A Holocaust icon would be an artifact from that time and a type of representation of that era. What is unique about such icons is that they embody both “then” and “now”—­that is, as symbols drawn from the Holocaust itself, they originate in an authentic aspect of the Holocaust, but as symbols whose power persists past the events of World War II, they also represent the Holocaust in its aftermath. One might better understand this with reference to David Roskies’s distinction, in his essay “Ringelblum’s Time Capsules,” between the “closed canon of wartime writings” he calls “literature of the Holocaust” and “literature on the Holocaust, which will go on being written for generations to come”; the former is fixed in its contours, but the latter is “increasingly . . . shaped not so much by the record of past events as by changing forms of literary expression, the Zeitgeist, and the political reality on the ground.”7 For Roskies, in noting the singular importance of Emmanuel Ringelblum’s Oyneg Shabes archive (the clandestine collection of thousands of items documenting the experience of Polish Jewry from 1940 to 1943 that had been buried in milk cans and metal boxes underneath the Warsaw Ghetto), the two bodies of literature are mutually exclusive; by contrast, I explore in this book the unique interplay, across this line separating then and now—­in the form of more generally symbolic rather than specifically literary representation—­material of the Holocaust interacting with material on the Holocaust. The “iconic” often connotes materiality. The milk cans used in Ringelblum’s secret archive, for example, have come to be seen as iconic artifacts at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), representing the historical importance and symbolic value of documentary collections, as well as, one might surmise, the political significance of amassing evidence for posterity even under constrained circumstances. As Dominik

Holocaust Symbols • 7

Bartmanski and Jeffrey C. Alexander have argued, “Objects become icons when they have not only material force but also symbolic power.” Iconicity, they continue, is central to social life and the organization of reality: Icons allow members of societies (1) to experience a sense of participation in something fundamental whose fuller meaning eludes their comprehension and (2) to enjoy the possibility for control despite being unable to access directly the script that lies beneath. Icons are cultural constructions that provide believer-­ friendly epiphanies and customer-­friendly images. . . . Icons provide an aesthetic contact with encoded meanings whose depth is beyond direct ratiocination. Iconicity consists in retrieving, activating, and articulating the depth of the signified by introducing it to the realm of immediate sensory experience, connecting discursive meaning with the perceptual and the palpable.8

Icons are facilitators connecting people to the deeper realities to which the icons refer, permitting identification with those inaccessible meanings through a symbolic code the icons establish. But as iconicity is culturally constructed, icons exist in a range of cultural forms not limited to the material realm (not necessarily concrete, physical); rather, icons reflect a variety of cultural symbols that provide access to transcendent meaning, as implied by Bartmanski and Alexander. In their representational aspects, icons are commemorative and look to the past; as representatives of complex realities, icons operate in the present and offer a framework for social engagement. Functionally, an icon acts as a kind of short circuit, allowing quick, noncognitive access to the larger, hidden reality to which it refers through symbolic association. Let me clarify at this stage that my use of the terms icon and symbol does not follow the meaning established by Charles Sanders Peirce, the American pragmatist philosopher, whose semiotic theory has been broadly influential. Peirce famously distinguished between three types of sign “indispensable in all reasoning,” the icon, the index, and the symbol: “the first is the diagrammatic sign or icon, which exhibits a similarity or analogy to the subject of discourse; the second is the index, which like a pronoun demonstrative or relative, forces the attention to the particular object intended without describing it; the third is the general name or description which signifies its object by means of an association of ideas or habitual connection between the name and the character signified.”9 In Peirce’s thinking, the icon is the simplest type of sign, bearing a relationship to what is signified through

8  •  Holocaust Icons

reason and/or by sharing its characteristics through imitation. “Most icons,” Peirce writes, “are likenesses of their objects,” and he cites examples ranging from photographs, mimicry, and diagrams.10 Indices, by contrast, “show something about things, on account of their being physically connected with them;” Peirce suggests as an example “a guidepost, which points down the road to be taken.”11 The symbol, finally, for Peirce, is often simply a word that has come to be associated with the object it represents through habit or through interpretation; it generally develops out of a combination of an icon and an index. For simplicity’s sake, and because I am not a philosopher, I will refer to all of my key examples as icons, even though, according to Peirce’s schema, they are actually a varied lot of signs: a photograph of Anne Frank is, technically, in his typology, an icon, because it is a likeness of a person named Anne Frank; a Holocaust-­era railway car, however, would be considered an index, due to its physical connection to the Shoah; “Arbeit macht frei” and the number six million are symbols, really, which refer to the Holocaust today through accretions of meaning and interpretation over time. But, in my nomenclature, all are icons because all are used to refer to the Holocaust in a kind of shorthand that is neither showing nor telling but rather viscerally presenting the Holocaust for comprehension and consumption. Martin Kemp provides a useful summary definition of this more common usage of the term in his notable volume From Christ to Coke: “An iconic image is one that has achieved wholly exceptional levels of widespread recognizability and has come to carry a rich series of varied associations for very large numbers of people across time and cultures, such that it has to a greater or lesser degree transgressed the parameters of its initial making, function, context, and meaning.”12 In my selection of icons, I have considered their broad public recognition and the many ways they exceed the bounds of their original production. All this begs the question: what do I mean by the symbolic? A number of structuralist anthropologists grapple with this concept, and their work is especially instructive in this regard. Sherry Ortner points out in a classic essay that anything can be a symbol, “i.e., a vehicle for cultural meaning.” She continues to describe the “summarizing symbol,” which specifically invites transposition into the Holocaust memorial and representational context and, especially, to the notion of the Holocaust icon being developed here: these symbols “are seen as summing up, expressing, representing for the participants in an emotionally powerful and

Holocaust Symbols • 9

relatively undifferentiated way, what the system means to them. This category is essentially the category of sacred symbols in the broadest sense, and includes all those items which are objects of reverence and/or catalysts of emotion—­the flag, the cross, the churinga, the forked stick, the motorcycle, etc.” She continues, citing the paradigmatic example of the American flag, which stands for all the ideas we consider part of the “American way” all at once: “It does not encourage reflection on the logical relations among these ideas, nor on the logical consequences of them as they are played out in social actuality, over time and history. On the contrary, the flag encourages a sort of all-­or-­nothing allegiance to the whole package.”13 Moreover, she adds, such summarizing symbols “speak primarily to attitudes, to a crystallization of commitment.”14 That is, summarizing symbols, once widely accepted within a society as sacred, effectively sum up an adherent’s dedication to the system, often in a non-­or pre-­cognitive way. My analysis is also set against the background of Clifford Geertz’s specific cultural definition of religion. In “Religion as a Cultural System,” Geertz famously defines religion as “(1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-­lasting moods and motivations in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.”15 In Geertz’s view, religion consists of symbols, and, though this book is not about religion as traditionally conceived, it is my own training in the study of religions that has led me to this discussion. Additionally, echoing the language of many commentators, I will employ a vocabulary gleaned from the study of religions. In our post-­Holocaust age, three generations past the immediacy of the events of World War II, it is appropriate to ask questions about the wider sociocultural impact and legacy of the Shoah, especially as the representation of the Holocaust proliferates within contemporary culture. Various strategies of Holocaust memorialization, understood as cultural projects aimed at preserving the legacies and lessons of the Shoah for posterity, depend in part on symbolization for their success. Although I am not suggesting that the icons examined here are religious objects, or that their deployment evokes prayer, or even that the environments in which they may be housed are houses of worship, I am suggesting that they be interpreted as akin to sacred relics, with all the symbolic impact such relics traditionally invoke.16 There is something in their role as symbols, within particular contexts, that may be structurally similar to religious

10  •  Holocaust Icons

symbolization, especially in the meanings they generate. Even though traditional religious symbols may evoke more readily recognizable religious behaviors, the symbols I explore raise important and instructive parallels, particularly in the social, cultural, and ideological spheres. In this way I consider them sacred. Indeed, this entire discussion is indebted to the history and analysis of the Christian icon, without which we would have neither the word icon nor its rich symbolic and linguistic implications. The classic Eastern Orthodox Christian icon (from the Greek eikon, for “image”) is an object of contemplation and veneration with both spiritual and didactic functions: expressing and facilitating access to a hidden spiritual reality, and assisting in the instruction of the faithful in that reality.17 The core aspect of that reality, the incarnation, stands as the “central mystery of Christendom: how did the Infinite consent to being circumscribed by the limitations of matter?”18 Elizabeth Zelensky and Lela Gilbert, whose book, Windows to Heaven, is designed to address questions from those outside Eastern Orthodoxy concerning the nature and purpose of icons, hold that the iconic tradition is a reflection on this fundamental Christian question. It produces an object that is transhistorical and transpatial, that is, technically, written, not painted or drawn, neither a recording nor an imitation of the world but rather an embodiment of and participation in the incarnation—­an object that transcends mimesis and indexicality: “The emphasis on the word writing underscores icons’ rootedness in the central ‘text’ of Christianity, that of the incarnation.”19 Kemp points out that the incarnational quality of the icon is enhanced in the history of the icon by early representations of Christ called in Greek acheiropoieta, images of miraculous origin not made by human hands; the model for such an image is the cloth Veronica offered to Jesus to mop his face on the way to Calvary, which left a lasting impression on the material.20 Through material inscription, icons bridge the sacred and profane worlds, witnessing to the divine and allowing humans to do the same, and yet this inscription is not mundane writing but rather a mode of religious experience, reverence, and devotion: it is imprinted with the divine. Thus, Zelensky and Gilbert outline what an icon is not—­not an artistic representation of a Christian theme or a “spiritual reality,” not an “accessory . . . to the act of worship,” and not an idol—­and what it is—­a means to participation in “the realm of eternity,” “an instrument through which the knowledge of God, in his mysterious human incarnation, becomes accessible to humankind,” and “the physical witness to the sanctification of matter.”21

Holocaust Symbols • 11

In general, a religious icon is akin to what Peirce calls a symbol, but it is also much more. It functions as a witness to transcendent reality as it deems to sacralize the mundane; for adherents, it testifies to truth. Although in contemporary usage a “pop icon” or “screen icon” represents the epitome of an individual’s artistic genre and personal achievement, I would direct the reader to the Eastern Orthodox senses of the term. For only some shifts of perspective and linguistic substitution are required to recognize that Holocaust icons share a number of the Orthodox icon’s characteristics: inscribed onto contemporary culture; they witness to and embody the mystery of the Shoah, participating in its reality through its residue lodged all around us; like classic icons, they are instruments for accessing that reality. Even some art-­critical notions of the symbol acknowledge their debt to a transcendent notion of the symbolic, as discussed, for example, in the work of E. H. Gombrich, who writes: The . . . tradition, which I have called the Neo-­Platonic or mystical interpretation of symbolism, is even more radically opposed to the idea of a conventional sign-­language. For in this tradition the meaning of a sign is not something derived from agreement, it is hidden there for those who know how to seek. In this conception, which ultimately derives from religion rather than from human communication, the symbol is seen as the mysterious language of the divine. The augur interpreting a portent, the mystagogue explaining the divinely ordained ritual, the priest expounding the image in the temple, the Jewish or Christian teacher pondering the meaning of the word of God had this, at least, in common, that they thought of the symbol as of a mystery that could only be partly fathomed.22

Here the symbol is not so much a clear product of social-­cultural negotiation as it is a partially hidden source, and therefore ultimate reference point, for meaning. Much of the literature about icons in their contemporary context focuses on the medium of photography. For example, communications scholars Robert Harriman and John Louis Lucaites analyze a selection of some of the most famous photographic “icons of U.S. public culture,” referring to but resisting the religious connotations of the term in favor of a theory more concerned with public accessibility and rhetorical power, identifying “five . . . vectors of [their] influence . . . : reproducing ideology, communicating social knowledge, shaping collective memory, modeling citizenship,

12  •  Holocaust Icons

and providing figural resources for communicative action.”23 For Harriman and Lucaites, America’s iconic photographs are iconic because they have emotional impact across a wide field of reception, which allows them to reflect and reproduce American society’s images of itself. This iconicity is not as divorced from its religious origins as the authors might think, though, because the individual’s gaze at the photograph that amplifies her own social identity is akin to a worshipper’s veneration of an icon. The focus on photography extends to previous work on Holocaust icons as well: Cornelia Brink borrows the term secular icon from historian of photography Vicki Goldberg, who identifies these images as “representations that inspire some degree of awe—­perhaps mixed with dread, compassion, or aspiration—­and that stand for an epoch or a system of beliefs. . . . [T]he images I think of as icons almost instantly acquired symbolic overtones and larger frames of reference that endowed them with national or even worldwide significance. They . . . provide an instant and effortless connection to some deeply meaningful moment in history. They seem to summarize such complex phenomena as the powers of the human spirit or of universal destruction.”24 Goldberg holds on to the religious connotations of the term icon even as she modifies it with the term secular: the context and medium might be profane, but the function of the image retains its favorable comparability to the traditional icon. Brink also finds the term apt, understanding its original function as mediating the visualization of its referent, and finding analogies to photographic representation of the Holocaust in the icon’s authenticity, symbolic power, and canonization, for instance, but she insists the term’s applicability only goes so far: “These photographs are not icons, but they are regarded as such.”25 Significantly for the approach I am developing here, Brink notes, about repeated concentration camp photographs, “One recognizes them and thinks that recognizing them implies understanding what they represent.”26 But Brink limits her purview to “icons of extermination,” photographs of and at the Nazi camps taken after liberation, what Barbie Zelizer calls “atrocity photos,”27 and their afterlives in the Federal Republic of Germany. My notion of the Holocaust icon includes photographs, but widens the scope of applicability of the religious term to other types of representation. In this respect, W.  J. T. Mitchell’s valuable Picture Theory suggests another applicable link to this study. It presents both a theory of pictures, the “concrete, representational objects in which images appear,”28 and a way to “picture” theory. In a series of interlinked and far-­ranging essays,

Holocaust Symbols • 13

Mitchell attempts to articulate the “pictorial turn” in the human sciences and in public culture and, especially, to develop a theoretical language with which to speak about this turn toward the visual. Mitchell writes: Whatever the pictorial turn is, then, it should be clear that it is not a return to naïve mimesis, copy or correspondence theories of representation, or a renewed metaphysics of pictorial “presence”; it is rather a postlinguistic, postsemiotic rediscovery of the picture as a complex interplay between visuality, apparatus, institutions, discourse, bodies, and figurality. It is the realization that spectatorship (the look, the gaze, the glance, the practices of observation, surveillance, and visual pleasure) may be as deep a problem as various forms of reading (decipherment, decoding, interpretation, etc.) and that visual experience or “visual literacy” might not be fully explicable on the model of textuality.29

Clearly, Mitchell’s picture theory owes a debt to the theology of the icon; both are influential for this book. Here, I apply these theoretical observations to the field of Holocaust visual and material culture and, specifically, to the selection of Holocaust icons that constitute some of the most distinctive visual and material artifacts of that time. The primary value of Mitchell’s theory here lies in dislodging the interpretation of Holocaust symbols from primarily text-­based readings to explore more complex implications in their use today.

The Shoe and the Tattoo Mitchell’s concerns for the roles and problems of spectatorship have influenced and framed my role as an author and can help frame the position I wish my readers to take. In many ways this book is an exercise that begins in visualization—­examining the ways we envision the Holocaust retrospectively, as its belated spectators, through the lenses of the key symbols that represent the Holocaust and provide windows on, or media for, apprehending it and imagining it after the fact. This perspective owes something to a religious view of the world, as outlined by Margaret Miles: “Religion has  .  .  . repeatedly been described as a way of seeing  .  .  . not merely in the figurative sense. Religious ‘seeing’ implies perceiving a quality of the sensible world, a numinosity, a ‘certain slant of light,’ in which

14  •  Holocaust Icons

other human beings, the natural world, and objects appear in their full beauty, transformed.”30 Although the numinous aura of a Holocaust icon is hardly beautiful, Miles’s description of a mechanism of perception is otherwise quite apt. It should be noted, however, that being a spectator is something different from being a witness; the latter is more legalistic and immediate, reflecting a subject position more intimately connected to the events (in this case, of World War II) through familial, generational, or simply cultural patrimony. The position of the witness, as we have seen, also owes something to the legacy of religion: witnesses testify to and embody transcendent truths; spectators are less invested, less self-­inscribed by the events they view. Thus, in contrast to those commentators who discuss Holocaust postmemory as a form of belated or vicarious witnessing, I wish to examine Holocaust icons from the perspective of the spectator who is more detached from the events of the war and whose relationship to them is primarily cultural and perhaps even voyeuristic. Hirsch expresses this distinction in the context of structures of the family and the availability of family memories, asking how we might adopt others’ experiences without appropriating them. “The question applies equally to the process of identification, imagination, and projection of those who grew up in survivor families, and of those less proximate members of their generation or relational network who share a legacy of trauma and thus the curiosity, the urgency, the frustrated need to know about a traumatic past. Still, their relationship to the past is certainly not the same.” She therefore distinguishes between “familial and ‘affiliative’ postmemory.”31 Spectators, in my understanding, extend the affiliative relationship to the Holocaust to a distance further removed from the personal investment of witnesses, even vicarious ones. But, as I wish to propose, the icons they view, visit, and otherwise engage with take up the connection otherwise held by the witness and her closer relationship to the events. The key symbols discussed in this book appear and reappear as different material, visual, linguistic, numerical, and personified forms, and our apprehensions of them force us to consider how we literally see the Holocaust, how the Shoah is variously encoded and encrypted all along the contemporary cultural spectrum: the former term suggests distillation into a code, a system of signs meant to keep secrets, but also alludes to the existence of a code, an ethical system, for its representation; the latter term again suggests a shrouding of meaning, but also implies that the Shoah may

Holocaust Symbols • 15

be “put into a crypt,” wherein its meanings are hidden in a closed, secretive box or subterranean chamber, with the dead and their relics. Allow me to illustrate this tie between spectatorship and Holocaust symbolization with a pair of examples, one drawn from the vast archive of material Holocaust artifacts, the other from an at least equally vast archive of more conceptual markers of the Shoah. These two cases will help delineate the boundaries of symbolic representation within which this study is situated. The first example is the shoe. Shoes, in the aggregate, are one of the most common symbols of the devastation and loss of the Holocaust. They are also one of the first types of symbolic item many have suggested when I have described this project in conversation, for good reason. As remnants of destruction on display, they are always evocative, especially of the absence the Shoah has left in its wake; they represent the Holocaust metonymically—­they are parts of a whole, as it were—­because their existence as postmemorial artifacts is predicated upon the murders of those who wore them.32 But shoes are not only general Holocaust symbols here; different kinds of shoes (children’s shoes, for example, or women’s high heels) can evoke different

FIGURE 1.   Female prisoners sort through shoes confiscated from a transport of Jews from

Subcarpathian Rus, then part of Hungary, at a warehouse in Auschwitz-­Birkenau, May 1944. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Yad Vashem.

16  •  Holocaust Icons

aspects of the Holocaust, while differing strategies and specific contexts of their display—­whether they are positioned as cast-­off remnants or carefully selected artifacts, for example—­can also lead to different shades of Holocaust memory and meaning. Janet Liebman Jacobs comments: “As intended by the designers of such exhibits, the viewer immediately becomes witness to all that is left of the prisoners, dust covered and aging shoes that speak to the former lives of children, laborers, women, and men whose previous existence is imagined in the roughness of a work boot, the fragility of a silk high heel, or the smallness of a child’s sandal.”33 Two institutions might construct different displays of shoes to represent, for example, the specific murder of children or the subjugation of women, but so long as they are displayed as artifacts of the Holocaust—­sacred relics, as it were—­these shoes carry into the postmemorial era an authenticity and an aura of sanctity that in turn enhances their symbolic potential. But while the deployment of such artifacts in a Holocaust context suggests a range of content and evocation—­all variations of Holocaust memory—­if any one of them was to be removed from this context it would not necessarily function as a symbol of the Holocaust. The shoe, then, might define one possible limit to this study: as an artifact of the Holocaust era, it can be used evocatively in a variety of settings to represent the horrors of mass murder. But its meaning rests on its status as an artifact of the time presented as such: a drawing of a shoe would not have the same effect on a visitor in a museum or memorial context, nor would the display of a shoe divorced from any reference to the Shoah. Such an artifact, then, for all its materiality, would still require a great deal of contextualization for it to refer effectively to the Holocaust. In a similar manner, on a specifically graphic point on the representational spectrum, there are certain images and acts that may also evoke the Holocaust through powerful symbolic resonances but nonetheless require proper conceptualization. I am thinking specifically of the image and concept of the Holocaust tattoo. While in Washington, DC, in 2004 on a research fellowship at the USHMM, I was encouraged to visit an exhibition of work by the Scottish artist Douglas Gordon at the Hirshhorn Museum. I was struck in particular by one installation, Never, Never (2000), a group of four pairs of negative and positive C-­prints, each 24 by 30 inches, which were displayed bracketing the corners of a gallery with what appeared to be mirror-­ image photographs of a man’s forearm. Extending away from the corner,

Holocaust Symbols • 17

each hand bent at the wrist as if holding an imaginary rope, each arm was “tattooed” on the underside with a stenciled word, “forever.” Based on my own presuppositions, arising from my own subject position and the context of my fellowship residency in Washington, I immediately read this work as referring to the Shoah and the particular Nazi barbarity of tattooing numbers on prisoners’ bodies—­displaying National Socialist ideals of commodification and enslavement. But later I learned, while investigating this work, that nothing in Gordon’s own published commentary or that of his critics suggests a Holocaust reference; the ostensible connection to tattooing arises rather from the artist’s upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness: “Because of the background I come from, a tattoo was a very taboo thing to have in my family. That indelible mark on the body—­which, of course, is why you like it when you get it done.”34 Was I the only one who viewed the work this way? Did the apparent lack of any intended Holocaust reference invalidate my own reaction to the work? How could such an image not refer to Holocaust-­era tattooing? The location of the tattoo on the arm especially convinced me that this was a subtle but significant representation of the conceptual image of Nazi tattooing, filtered through the language and media of contemporary art to such an extent that its direct referentiality was all but lost, perhaps even to the artist. But it remained there for those who could read it. My reaction to Never, Never suggests that some symbols can cut in at least two directions: someone might see an obvious Holocaust allusion, while someone else might not. What is significant about this example is that it proposes a representational boundary or limit for the appearance of a concept or act symbolic of the Holocaust, otherwise almost completely assimilated into contemporary cultural discourse; just at the edge of referentiality, it barely signifies “Holocaust,” and only to those predisposed to see it that way.35 These two examples do not so much define poles of this study as they exemplify its limits; my interest here is ultimately in the unique symbolic language of the Shoah and its aftermath as defined by material, visual, and cultural artifacts arising from it—­in symbols that signify, because of their own histories, an inherent connection to the Holocaust, one that cannot easily be stripped away. Shoes and tattoos, utilized as symbols, may derive from the Shoah and may, if invoked in certain ways, convey something meaningful about it, especially if displayed in a Holocaust context or if otherwise appropriated, even for alternative purposes, so long as

18  •  Holocaust Icons

their origins in the Holocaust are maintained and referenced. But shoes and tattoos—­and everything in between the material and the conceptual along the representational spectrum—­may just as easily have nothing to do with the Holocaust and World War II, in which case they would no longer be considered symbolic of the Shoah. In this way, they function as limits of this study: whatever lies beyond these boundaries would not meet the minimum threshold for Holocaust referentiality.

Holocaust Symbols This is not the first work to address the issue of Holocaust symbolism. Ziva Amishai-­Maisels, in her monumental survey Depiction and Interpretation: The Influence of the Holocaust on the Visual Arts, substantially engages the issue in the context of her broader, comprehensive project: to assess how artists reacted to the Holocaust in their work, both in depicting its horrors and in interpreting them through “symbolic themes and abstraction.”36 Amishai-­Maisels distinguishes—­in a manner parallel to Hirsch’s familial versus affiliative grouping—­between artists with firsthand knowledge of the Holocaust and those lacking direct visual experience of its horrors. It is the latter group that holds more interest for me, because it is that group that, faced with a more pressing need “to communicate with the spectator,” found itself increasingly limited in terms of choice of subject: “Non-­inmates preferred easily readable images of refugees, people behind barbed wire, transport trains, bearded Jews with guns, corpses or survivors, images which would arouse horror and/or sympathy. The result of this combination of limited sources and limited choices was the simultaneous development of stereotypes among artists in many countries—­the creation of an immediately recognizable Holocaust iconography.” In short, “non-­inmate artists found it easier to maintain a personal involvement not through depictions of the Holocaust, but through its translation into symbolic terms,”37 and this translation empowered them to grapple not simply with the events but with their lasting meanings. Amishai-­Maisels identifies a number of “primary Holocaust symbols”: objects—­barbed wire, the crematorium chimney, remnant belongings, and memento mori (objects whose depiction in art traditionally serve to remind the spectator of the presence of death, such as ruins, skulls or

Holocaust Symbols • 19

skeletons, and candles)—­and human images, such as of mother and child, of the child alone, and of the human scream.38 What is striking to me is the fortuitous degree to which Amishai-­ Maisels and I diverge in our selection of key symbols. I would suggest that all four principal symbols addressed in this volume, though originating in the historical era of World War II, fully came of age only much later; the phenomenon of using Holocaust-­era railway cars to represent the Jewish experience of deportation, for example, had only recently emerged when Amishai-­Maisels published her study (and the usage also goes beyond her purview, limited as her study is to the more traditional visual arts without addressing contemporary memorial forms). In general, many of the symbols Amishai-­Maisels identifies are generic: with the exception of crematoria chimneys and, to a lesser extent, relic piles, these images are not Holocaust-­specific. The recurring use of these images in the visual arts more strictly defined says more about the archives of such works as exhaustively mined by Amishai-­Maisels than it does about the selection of cultural-­ memorial symbols made for her study. She recognizes that the image of the scream is so common that it “became a widespread symbol of World War II in general and the Holocaust in particular” and “became a leitmotif of the war.”39 Interestingly, regarding the image of relics—­remnant belongings of murdered Jews, like shoes or other sorted items—­Amishai-­Maisels argues that it is precisely their obliqueness which causes these potential symbols to be rejected by non-­inmate artists: “Unlike the barbed wire and crematorium chimney—­and despite the fact that the piles of objects found in the camps had been widely photographed at the time—­this image is not well enough known to call up an immediate emotional response from the spectator.”40 According to Amishai-­Maisels, many artists overcame this difficulty by adding to the relics (and to the traditional memento mori objects) “clear-­cut symbols” that represent more directly the Holocaust experience, setting the piles of objects next to images of camp uniforms, inmates, or barbed wire, for example, marking them with unambiguous signifiers like Hebrew letters or stars of David, or even anthropomorphizing them.41 In any case, our agendas for identifying key Holocaust symbols diverge markedly: Amishai-­Maisels has surveyed a vast body of artistic works to discover commonly used symbols and to explicate artistic techniques and intentions; I examine a broader field of the public, cultural representation of the Shoah and select four key symbols that not only recur in varied forms and locations but also represent the cultural transformation of a

20  •  Holocaust Icons

Holocaust past into a Holocaust present. In focusing on these icons, I want us to take notice of them and become aware of how we use them as tools to think about, imagine, and perhaps ultimately memorialize the past. And of course, in this regard, I should confess as well that my chosen symbols are, ultimately, simply that—­chosen, perhaps idiosyncratically, because I think their stories, and the stories they tell, are particularly interesting.

The Shapes of Memory I might have chosen differently. In addition to explicating the limits of this analysis as exemplified by the examples of shoes and tattoos, I offer one more preliminary discussion to clarify my approach and my choice of objects. As I have suggested, Holocaust symbols can range widely in form: metonymic artifacts, linguistic symbols, photographic representations, people, places, numbers, badges, graphic markings, and others. Although the more concrete and plastic of these symbolic forms lend themselves in important and specific ways to Holocaust representation and memorialization, badges and graphic markings operate in a particularly provocative manner, largely due to their formal malleability and easy reproducibility. Utilized at the time to identify, in different ways, distinct groups associated with and identified by the unfolding events of the Shoah, graphic symbols of the Holocaust have taken on new lives after the war; thus they might strike many as deserving of study here. Indeed, they are relevant to this discussion, though in the end their very ubiquity and malleability prevent them from being used iconically, in the manner defined in this volume. Nonetheless, a close examination of three graphic symbols is instructive. Specifically, yellow Stars of David, pink triangles, and black swastikas have been employed to distinguish groups who affiliate with distinct aspects of the Holocaust experience and its legacy, as well as by groups wishing to capitalize on such associations. Even though their histories and contemporary applications are distinct, taken together these three symbols point to the roles such images can play in advancing group identification with Holocaust-­era communities and especially in distinguishing one group’s affiliation from another in the memorial sphere. Although many might see the use of these symbolic identification badges as abuse of some of the Holocaust’s central, sacrosanct images, it may be more useful to perceive them as political appropriations, understood as strategies through which

Holocaust Symbols • 21

power (or, rather, the desire for power) is expressed, based on their association with the Holocaust. Separately, each of these three symbols can be understood in the context of a particular type of power. One thing that distinguishes these three graphic symbols from the icons I primarily analyze is their particular employment as badges. Although artistic and memorial applications of these shapes generally show the malleability of these symbols, either as specific Holocaust referents or as vehicles for the universalization or relativization of the Holocaust, the use of these symbols as badges of identification generally invokes the Holocaust, however obliquely, to define a specific community of memory. Even though the Holocaust, or aspects of it, may be distilled into its perceived essence through the perpetuation of these symbols, once this semiotic effect has been achieved, the continued use of the symbol provides a platform for a reappropriation of the Holocaust affiliation, as occurs as well with the icons primarily analyzed in this volume. At times the motives for these reappropriations are far removed from the original World War  II context, owing to the unique transferability of these graphic symbols: simply put, one could wear a pink triangle, yellow star, or black swastika on one’s clothing, but one could not so easily pin a railway car to one’s lapel, nor is it common to see “Arbeit macht frei” or “6,000,000” decontextualized or worn. Although the icons discussed in this volume are often reappropriated for motives outside the Holocaust context, the manner of such reappropriation is not as simple as with these graphic signs. For example, the case of the pink triangle displays a transformation of the Nazi incarceration label into a badge of honor and of communal identification with a movement for rights and recognition, while the many uses of the yellow star by Jews, though similarly worn to solidify group identity, point more deeply to a specific memorial agenda. Finally, neo-­Nazi appropriations of the swastika suggest countercultural, even chilling and dangerous, political affiliations and allegiances to alternative realities—­histories that never were. In other words, yellow stars stake out specific memorial power, pink triangles invoke political power, and black swastikas raise the specter of transgressive power. This trilogy of graphic Holocaust symbols might be termed the “shapes of memory.” When comparative literature scholar Geoffrey Hartman published a noteworthy, edited collection of essays with this subtitle, he was certainly not thinking of these graphic signs derived from the concentrationary universe, even as he recognized that memory had “many shapes,

22  •  Holocaust Icons

which should not be prematurely unified.”42 Rather, his primary focus was the “heterogeneity” of testimony and the demystification of its figures: “[T]he different shapes, spiritual and psychological, . . . are not heroic, or inevitably heroic; nor are they enlarged, gilded, totemic. They tell of ‘nothing more than what we are’—­rather, of what they were who had to face humiliation, persecution, and systemic slaughter.”43 But what if the shapes of memory (or, rather, these other, different shapes) were indeed totemic, symbolic, “larger than life,” so to speak? Hartman, citing Walter Benjamin, is justifiably concerned about the manipulation of images, about “presence increasingly displaced by representation,”44 but what if something else, something very real, is created in the wake of such representational proliferation? Given the noticeable increase in Holocaust representations in the cultural sphere, it would be worthwhile to examine present-­day shapes of memory, despite, or perhaps because of, their proliferation. What if displacement of the testimonial presence of the past results in a replacement, a substitution, not of some empty simulacrum but of a symbolic presence, a more open sign that has significance but that also can be refilled with almost anything? These shapes of Holocaust memory are such signs, and their cultural presence is very real. The general histories of these three symbols are fairly well known. The swastika is an ancient sign, usually associated with power and energy, whose Sanskrit root could be translated as “lucky charm”; it is (or at least was) a commonly used symbol, particularly in Hinduism, making its use somewhat jarring in a post–­World War II context. Indeed, in many contexts the use of the swastika for decorative purposes or as a sign or label was altered or discontinued due to its associations with Nazism. Kemp cites early associations of the swastika with aryan identity by Heinrich Schliemann (in his 1875 Troy and Its Ruins), Michael Zmigrodski (in his 1889 exhibition of three hundred drawings at the Paris Exposition), and Gustaf Kossina (in his 1914 German Prehistory: A Pre-­eminently National Discipline) as providing the components for “perhaps the most potent graphic emblem ever devised.”45 The Nazis adopted the swastika as their central symbol early on, based on this mistaken notion that it was an aryan symbol, and Hitler himself was responsible for the graphic design of the Nazi party flag, with a red background, white disk, and black swastika in the center, showing an awareness of its visual and symbolic appeal. That flag became the national flag of Germany in 1935. Soon the swastika could be seen on a range of Nazi paraphernalia, including pins, silverware, knives, medals, and of course

Holocaust Symbols • 23

uniform insignia, just to name a few.46 I note as well, though it should be obvious, that the swastika is a variation on the cross. The six-­pointed Magen David is also old, though perhaps not as ancient as the swastika. Gershom Scholem argues that the term “Shield of David” is a misnomer, not only because the symbol (which, in his view, originally represented nothing Jewish) and its name were not originally connected, but also because one of the Jewish roots of the graphic sign is based in the practical kabbalah, as a magical talisman that began appearing only in medieval times and reached its peak in the Sabbatian movement. The symbol’s second root, according to Scholem, is as an official emblem of Prague’s Jewish community, first seen on its flag in 1527, resulting from a privilege granted by Emperor Charles IV in 1354; it spread from there throughout Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Only in the nineteenth century did it begin to take on its character as a symbol of Judaism, as a more widespread decorative and declarative sign, largely, Scholem argues, in response to Jewish Emancipation. But it remained an empty symbol, since it did not actually represent or recall any specifically Jewish idea or event. This may have been why it became such a powerful symbol of the Zionist movement: selected in 1897, it could be filled with political-­messianic yearnings. The Nazis, of course, chose it as well, first to denote Jewish businesses beginning in 1933, then to label Jews themselves in 1941, adding the color yellow, which had been used in medieval times on badges identifying Jews, and the practice spread throughout Nazi-­ conquered territories during the war. Scholem says, But even Zionism did not do so much to confer the sacredness of a true symbol on the Shield of David as did that mad dictator who made of it a badge of shame for millions of our people, who compelled them to wear it publicly on their clothing as the badge of exclusion and eventual extermination. Under this sign they moved along the road of horror and degradation, struggle and heroism. If there be such a thing as a soil that grows meaning for symbols, this is it. Some have said: the sign under which they went to destruction and to the gas chambers deserves to be discarded for a sign that will signify life. But it is also possible to think in the opposite fashion: the sign that in our days was sanctified by suffering and torture has won its right to be the sign that will light up the road of construction and life. “The going down is the prelude to the raising up”; where it was humbled, there will you find it exalted.47

24  •  Holocaust Icons

Some of Scholem’s words might also apply to the pink triangle—­the only one of these three graphic symbols that does not have a prehistory, as it were—­and especially to its transformation. Apparently created by Dachau commandant Theodor Eicke (also responsible, incidentally, for the “Arbeit macht frei” slogan’s use in the Nazi system), it was part of a “typology” of prisoners created and used for identification and hierarchical purposes. To my knowledge, however, the symbol was largely forgotten until the 1970s, when gay rights activists adopted it, and turned it around so it pointed upward. It was institutionalized in 1987 as the emblem of the SILENCE=DEATH project, which consciously linked the AIDS crisis to the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. The six men who created the Silence=Death logo, of whom some were graphic designers, then offered it to ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, known for attention-­ getting protests and street actions advocating for drug treatments and greater AIDS awareness.

Art and Power The appropriation and transformation of the pink triangle leads naturally to all these symbols’ postwar uses. Here I would like to highlight three trends, often interrelated: the use of these symbols as personal insignia, as memorial markers, and in works of art. This brief survey is not intended to be exhaustive but rather to focus on the three primary uses I associate with these symbols, as outlined: specific memorial power for the Star of David, political power for the pink triangle, and transgressive power for the swastika. The Magen David is the most ubiquitous symbol of the three, and thus the most generic. As a badge of identity it is worn with pride, whether in replicas of its Holocaust form, or in its Zionist-­Israeli context: blue rather than yellow, either on a flag or echoing the Israeli flag, as in the case of jackets worn on the March of the Living, the Zionism-­infused, worldwide teen pilgrimage to Poland and Israel every spring. Of course, as a generic symbol it is well known as a pendant; in a more specific context it is available as a pin, for sale as a souvenir at the USHMM, for example. As a memorial marker, it can delineate territory, whether immediately after the war as a rudimentary grave marker, or later on in competition with crosses at Auschwitz. These uses are, of course, also political. It can also take more subtle form, as

FIGURE 2.   Silence=Death (1987), poster, approx. 33 x 21.5 in. Reproduced by permission of

ACT UP/New York. Courtesy of The Wolfsonian–­Florida International University, Gift of Henry S. Hacker & Family. Photo: Lynton Gardiner.

26  •  Holocaust Icons

in the hexagonal Hall of Remembrance at the USHMM (with, we might note, its triangular floor pattern, perhaps a kind of deconstruction of the star) or in more violently dismantled form, as in the façade of Daniel Libes­ kind’s Jewish Museum addition in Berlin. In art, the Star of David takes its most interesting form, because it is such a loaded and recognizable symbol. Mark Godfrey observes: “Totalitarian reliance on the organizing power of the symbol might have made any use of symbols problematic after the Holocaust; just as, for some survivors, the German language was forever tarnished, so too symbolic language was problematized.”48 This is not the place, however, to discuss the numerous artistic appearances of the Star, so I will only cite one specifically Holocaust-­related example, a work by Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak, in whose bereft landscapes the Magen David is a powerful recurring motif. In Lawrence Langer’s comments on Bak’s work, the Star of David is one of several “familiar emblems of Jewish continuity” that “have not been vanquished . . . but . . . declare themselves with a diminished vigor,”49 as in in Alone, an oil painting that Langer likens to an “abandoned Alcatraz.”50 Bak

FIGURE 3.   Samuel Bak, Alone (1995), oil on canvas, approx. 5.25 × 6.5 ft. Photo courtesy of Pucker Gallery, Boston.

Holocaust Symbols • 27

himself has said, “I have returned to the Star of David over and over again, attracted by the simplicity of its shape and by the clarity of its meaning—­an icon of humiliation that has acquired the status of proud identity. At times I depicted it as if it were made of metal, wood, fabric or stone.”51 In all of these cases, and many more, the Magen David is highly potent, probably because, as such a recognizable symbol, its appropriation is always overdetermined: it is as close to a universal symbol signifying “Jewish” as one can get, Scholem’s critique notwithstanding. In this manner, I see its use as largely memorial, and always referring specifically to Jewish memories, though not necessarily Holocaust ones. It is a bit more challenging to present cases of the use of the pink triangle. Again, a wearable version is for sale at the USHMM as a pin. Certainly its use in the SILENCE=DEATH project and later as the emblem of ACT UP can be seen as a kind of public, political art, though perhaps less well known than the red ribbon or the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.52 The late artist Keith Haring created a screen print based on this logo in 1989: a square field filled with his familiar figures, in this case outlined in silver and grieving, with a pink triangle centered on the entire image.53 At least one scholar has expressed reservations about these “politics of ‘reclamation,’” arguing that they risk excluding lesbians (for the Nazis, the pink triangle was used only for gay men, but today it appears accepted as a symbol for gay and lesbian rights in general) and, moreover, that such a symbolic transformation risks obscuring the violent history the original sign should symbolize, especially as the majority of users of the pink triangle today do not know its wartime meaning.54 This may also account for why the pink triangle does not appear to be a central motif in contemporary works by gay artists, who have a wide range of iconography to choose from and who may see the triangle as either obscure or “merely” political. The triangle motif, again upturned, is central to two works in Judy Chicago’s Holocaust Project, titled Pink Triangle/Torture and Lesbian Triangle. The former is a triptych centering the treatment of gays in the Holocaust (inside the triangle) against a photographed bed of lavender pansies between paintings of past and present-­day torture. The latter edges the triangle in pink and black (the color for “asocials” in the Dachau system) and splits it vertically: the left side features a female SS guard coercing prisoners sexually, the right offers an image of female comfort and bonding, all against a background of screened photos of a guard tower and barracks, above a painting of a Weimar-­era gay bar.

28  •  Holocaust Icons

The pink triangle is also central to a number of European memorials to homosexuals persecuted during the war; a key example is the Homomonument in Amsterdam. Designed by Karin Daan (and around the corner, incidentally, from the Anne Frank House, in the Westermarkt), the Homomonument serves as a gathering place and memorial site. It is a signpost and crossroads, with its points indicating the direction of the Anne Frank House, the local Gay Coalition office, and the National Monument, but the memorial itself also defines the boundaries of an open space that is frequently transgressed unknowingly—­perhaps a metaphor for the largely unknown memorial legacy the pink triangle symbolizes. In this regard, it is no wonder the uses of the triangle are so politicized, being attempts to access power and get noticed. Finally I come to the swastika: here, there is no pin for sale at any Holocaust institution I know of. Since it was the sign of the perpetrator, many of its postwar appropriations have been restricted, deemed taboo, or meant to provoke; it is even illegal to use this symbol in present-­day Germany, and in 2014 the Israeli Knesset began debating a controversial bill that would criminalize the use of the word “Nazi” or any use of Holocaust-­related symbols for other than educational purposes, thus proposing the strictest limits on speech and symbolism related to the Shoah in the world.55 Neo-­Nazis, of course, still use and admire swastika insignia,

FIGURE 4.   Homomonument, Amsterdam (1987). Photo courtesy of Stichting Homomonument.

Holocaust Symbols • 29

which is one reason why the Holocaust Museum Houston has an unofficial policy of collecting Nazi memorabilia to get such artifacts “off the street,” as it were; the use of swastikas as graffiti in grave desecrations and other antisemitic attacks is all too well-­known. Nonetheless, several artists have found inspiration in the Nazi “hooked cross.” Art Spiegelman used a swastika to powerful effect in Maus, as when, to indicate the desperation of his parents, Vladek and Anja, in seeking refuge, he depicted them setting out along a swastika-­shaped path. Spiegelman may have based this depiction on a July 3, 1938, New York Times illustration that makes even clearer to the viewer that there is no refuge for European Jews: a road-­weary Jewish man, marked as such by skullcap and beard with an overcoat labeled “NON ARYAN,” sits dejectedly on his pack at the center of a crossroads shaped like a swastika; at each terminus lies a stop sign, even though the guidepost reads “go” in all four directions. On the horizon, the promise of salvation identified as “Evian conference” beckons; the cartoon’s caption reads, “Will the Evian Conference Guide Him to Freedom?” As we know, it did not. Some contemporary artists have incorporated the swastika into their works as a way of directly engaging the matter of taboo symbols. This issue, of course, received much attention in the provocative Mirroring Evil exhibition, which featured a number of these artists playing with such transgressive imagery, as Mischa Kuball did in Hitler’s Cabinet, whose cruciform shape morphs into a swastika when projections from its four ends are illuminated. The artist Tom Sachs engages the swastika as well, in his Manischewitz Luger, which hovers, as Sachs’s other work does, between kitsch and a critique of commodification, and pushes the bounds of artistic transgression in making a weapon case and its contents out of a cardboard icon of Jewish consumerism, now marked by a Nazi flag on the cover with a gun inside. In fact, Sachs’s work, “all but ignored in the frenzy of press surrounding the show,” highlights the role and status of objects, especially controversial ones, in museum exhibitions. According to art historian Lisa Saltzman, Sachs’s work “pursue[s] the logic of the readymade as a means of encountering, if not countering, history as but a field of representations,” suggesting that even the history of the Holocaust, “for all the claims to its radically inassimilable nature, has proved to be, like any other, an object of cultural consumption, a commodity.”56 Saltzman’s trenchant comment here is set within a discussion of the legacy of Marcel Duchamp and his

30  •  Holocaust Icons

FIGURE 5.   Tom Sachs, Manischewitz Luger (1996), cardboard and thermal adhesive, 3.25 x 10 x 7.5 in. Photo courtesy of Tom Sachs Studio.

revolutionary “readymades”—­presentations of ordinary objects as works of art that forced institutional practitioners to confront the place of objects in their exhibitions; in Saltzman’s analysis, “if the readymade has produced a certain logic of objects, so too has genocide.”57 Saltzman sees and interprets Manischewitz Luger as “a gun and swastika fashioned from matzoh boxes. In combining the signifiers of matzoh and munitions, the mythic trope of the passive, even effeminate Jewish male is conceptually undone with an invocation of the ‘tough Jew.’ As such, the piece is less about the past than a ‘product’ of the present, in which the kosher commodity comes to signify something of the politics of identity and nationhood in present-­day Israel.”58 The work is indeed fashioned from a kosher commodity, but the product is a box of crackers, not matzohs, and the brand is the quintessential Jewish-­American, not Israeli, manufacturer of matzoh, “sacramental wine,” and much more, making the critique one of the intersection of American commercialism and Jewish identity, not Israeli nationhood and identity. Most important, the weapon is a famous German model, so the “effeminate” and “tough Jew” invocations are misplaced. If anything, this is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak: the Jewish container has been remade into and appropriated for a

Holocaust Symbols • 31

more sinister purpose, branded as it is by the swastika, concealing the gun inside. Sachs has transformed into a work of art the very criticisms levied against the Jewish Museum for mounting and housing the Mirroring Evil exhibition, with all of its examples of Nazi material culture inside. Here it is also a metaphor for the Holocaust icons, often objects originating in or at least marked by a Nazi past, that have proliferated in present-­day culture—­ including, but not limited to, Jewish culture. What I mean to show with this brief excursus is that Holocaust symbols such as the yellow star, pink triangle, and black swastika have come a long way since World War II. And yet, with the possible exception of the pink triangle, they still retain their potency, their particular power: Stars of David need not even be yellow to evoke a Holocaust memorial reference, swastikas remain taboo no matter what context they appear in. As Holocaust symbols, pink triangles are different, because they seem to have disappeared altogether for an intervening period, allowing them to reappear wholly transformed; this may account for their political potency, but it also may be why their iconographic power seems relatively weak. Nonetheless, uses of all three point to the ways symbolism is shaped and reshaped in the ongoing cultural engagement with the past, and provide a window onto the wide range of Holocaust symbols’ expressiveness. Each occurrence of these simple graphic symbols is a powerful distillation of the Holocaust. Yet, as graphic symbols, each is also too malleable and too frequently invoked to allow for a focused and thorough analysis. In the end, because each can be invoked and inscribed almost without limitation, they all fall short of classification as Holocaust icons because they have not retained their specificity; they may symbolize the Shoah but they do not embody it iconically (in my definition). They remain symbolic and powerful, but each has also left the Shoah behind, shedding its primary authenticating skin to become part of the general symbolic and cultural lexicon. This introduction to Holocaust symbols thus serves in actuality to further delineate the choices I have made in selecting the four symbols that follow whose iconic nature and relationship to the Holocaust is less tenuous and more clearly defined.


Different Trains Holocaust Artifacts and the Ideologies of Remembrance

If I could include it here, I would begin with a musical excerpt. When Steve Reich conceptualized Different Trains, his work for string quartet and tape, he reflected on early childhood memories dating back to 1939–­1942, when, following his parents’ bicoastal separation, he would visit them with his governess, traveling back and forth by train between New York and Los Angeles. “While these trips were exciting and romantic at the time, I now look back and think that, if I had been in Europe during this period, as a Jew I would have had to ride very different trains.”1 In his composition, Reich used several speech excerpts from testimonies by three survivors, all roughly his age, recorded by the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University and the William E. Wiener Oral History Library of the New York Public Library. He added other recorded reminiscences from his governess and from a retired Pullman porter, as well as recorded American and European train sounds of the 1930s and 1940s, prerecorded string passages, and a live string quartet to complete the layers of the work. But rather than fit the oral history 32

Different Trains • 33

recordings into his musical concept, Reich notes, he fit the music to correspond to the pitch and rhythm of selected speech samples. In this way, the speech recordings “generate[d] the musical material for musical instruments.”2 Structurally, Reich divided his piece into three: part I, America—­ Before the War; part II, Europe—­During the War; and part III, After the War. Part I features speech excerpts from Virginia, Reich’s childhood governess, and from Mr. Davis, the retired train porter. They include, for example, excerpts in which Mr. Davis says, “From New York to Los Angeles” and Virginia says, “Different trains every time,” repeatedly. Part II highlights reminiscences from the three Holocaust survivors, Rachella, Rachel, and Paul. For example, we hear Rachella say, “into those cattle wagons, for four days and four nights, and then we went through these strange-­sounding names, Polish names, lots of cattle wagons there.” Part III includes excerpts from all five, merging America and Europe and, as its title indicates, erasing the distinction between the two locales. Musicologist Amy Lynn Wlodarski, in her close and thorough reading of Reich’s piece, complicates Reich’s presentation of his work and our reception of it. Wlodarski recognizes the special technique behind the composer’s “‘speech melodies,’ Reich’s term for a type of musical transcription that attempts to replicate the distinctive rhythm, intonation, and inflection of human speech. . . . By deliberately maintaining the acoustic integrity of the sound clips, Reich respected the semantic meaning of the testimonies and amplified them by using the speech melodies to generate musical motives for the live string quartet.”3 However, Wlodarski’s remarkable, painstaking reconstruction of the source testimonies for Reich’s work uncovers heretofore hidden compositional decisions reflected in editing choices and even two significant transcription errors that affect the meaning of the work. Because these decisions are hidden from the audience’s view, the reception of the work is impacted: “The perception that Reich presents the archival evidence in a straightforward and unsentimental manner facilitates acceptance of the work as documentary rather than dramatic”; this perception is intensified by the minimalist aesthetic of works like Reich’s, which intends to display a kind of “musical objectivity” and “self-­referential impulse,” often utilizing repetition to draw focus onto the “musical object at hand.”4 What is ultimately produced, in Wlodarski’s incisive interpretation, is “Reich’s own Holocaust testimony, one crafted from the voices of witnesses other than himself ”; the composer’s “techniques of selection, suture, and substitution alienate the distinct accounts

34  •  Holocaust Icons

from the experiences of the survivors, assembling them as Reich’s own personalized remembrance. His psychological engagement with their traumatic stories is traceable in his editorial decisions, which reveal his involvement as a secondary witness.”5 In some respects, the notion of secondary witness is itself problematic, as it assumes the primacy of so-­called primary accounts, often historical or testimonial, which raises the latter to a presumed level of unmediated discourse that rarely, if ever, actually occurs. But the sense of secondariness embodied in the various adoptive, vicarious, and imaginative retellings of the Holocaust still has something to teach about the belatedness of such testimony. For Wlodarski, Reich’s problem is that he “seems unaware that testimony inherently straddles the boundary between the aesthetic and the true and that his framing of primary witness creates a secondary one,”6 and we should certainly bear the risk of such ignorance in mind. Wlodarski’s nuanced reading of Reich’s piece is instructive for my analysis in at least two ways. First, Reich’s avowed concern for authenticity in incorporating actual audio recordings into his work reflects an underlying interest, discussed in the introduction to this volume, in using authentic Holocaust objects for its representation. Even if, as Wlodarski has shown, Reich’s execution of this objective, to a certain extent, “effectively supplant[s] the survivor’s interpretation of the Holocaust with his own reading of its cultural and literary tropes,”7 the underlying interest in authenticity is not undone. Indeed, even primary witnesses are seen to make aesthetic choices in shaping their own narratives. Second, the close analysis of Reich’s work reveals the extent of his affiliative postmemory driven, in large part, by the iconic power of the Holocaust-­era train; in turn, that sense of affiliation may obscure a range of decisions made in secondary witnessing contexts. Reich therefore does an interesting thing in Different Trains, something I want to use to introduce and frame this chapter. Aside from creating the music itself and its haunting, repetitive cadences, and aside from remarkably transposing the experience of deportation to music, Reich presents the image of the Holocaust-­era train as iconic. In creating the music of memory, Reich suggests that the image of the train can be a vehicle for engaging the role of the Holocaust in contemporary culture and identity. He suggests, through his method of composition, that it is the symbol itself (in this case, the train) that determines our interpretive approach to it. In Reich’s imagining, memory coalesces around the symbol, not vice versa.8

Different Trains • 35

The Aura of the Artifact The symbol, in this case, is also and essentially an artifact, and Reich’s use of it points to its iconic value and significance. What happens when we view the Holocaust-­era railway car, a material remnant of World War II, as itself an icon of the Shoah? In general, material artifacts of the Holocaust are among the most powerful signifiers of that era, because they carry and convey the material trace of authentic experience (they are indexical, in Peirce’s typology). Typically, Holocaust artifacts are of three types; the most common are remnants derived from the human experience of the period, usually exhibited in museums and memorials in multiples meant to convey the enormity of the Nazis’ crimes: eyeglasses, shoes, suitcases, prosthetic limbs; all of these point to the mass murders and wholesale destruction of the Shoah by indicating the absence of the human bearers and wearers of these objects. A less commonly encountered type of Holocaust artifact is the relic: known largely through photographs due to their often gruesome nature, these artifacts point to mass death more directly—­and metonymically, as parts of a whole: piles of hair shorn from female victims, teeth, emaciated corpses piled like so much cordwood, or masses of ashes flecked with human bone fragments. Finally, many Holocaust artifacts are unique objects related more obliquely to human experiences: desecrated Torah scrolls would be included in this category, as are objects buried by victims and discovered after the war, such as diaries or family heirlooms, as well as artifacts of historical significance, such as a Danish rescue boat (on display at the USHMM) and the milk can in which were preserved portions of the “Oyneg Shabbes” archive on life in the Warsaw Ghetto compiled by Emanuel Ringelblum and his team—also on display at the USHMM. In many respects, the Holocaust-­era railway car straddles the first and third of these types: on the one hand, it is an artifact directly related to victim experiences of the time, in this case representing and indeed embodying the experience of deportation, and conveys something of the gravity of that experience, repeated countless times, through the absence of its human cargo; on the other hand, the fact that there were a variety of railway cars used for deportation during the Holocaust, along with the disparate details of each instance of deportation, renders each example of a railway car in its historical context unique.

36  •  Holocaust Icons

In varying degrees, all of these Holocaust artifacts also bear within themselves a sacred aura, which contributes to their symbolic weight and communicative impact and, especially, their iconic value. How do these objects, placed in certain memorial and museological contexts, symbolically convey, contain, or embody the Holocaust—­in other words, communicate its meanings? Two of the central themes underlying these questions are authenticity and emplacement: how, for what reasons, and under what conditions, Holocaust-­era artifacts are selected and situated, and the Holocaust engaged, in memorial and museological settings. Let me illustrate the complexity of these issues, as specifically related to a museum visitor’s encounter with a railway car on display, with an anecdote from my own experience at the USHMM, drawn from the time I was a research fellow at its Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. Back then, I had the opportunity to debrief several university groups near the conclusion of their visits to the museum. In one group, from my home university, two students asked about the railway car’s authenticity. I asked them, in turn, whether they had seen the car’s exhibition label and what they understood from it. They both replied that they were still keenly interested in knowing whether or not the railway car had actually been used for deportation purposes; I reminded them that the evidence was inconclusive and asked them why it mattered. What struck me most was their response: one said that, had she known the railway car had actually been used to deport Jews, she would not have entered it, considering it akin to sacred or even taboo space, while the other said that, had she been able to confirm its deadly authenticity, she would have made a point of entering it, specifically because of its special, sacred nature. For both visitors, the possibility of the railway car’s authenticated connection to mass murder, and the proximity or residue of death, was essential to their complete museum experience, already enhanced by the size and nature of the artifact. This, I think, points to the railway car’s iconicity. To better understand the second type of artifact (the relic), and, in particular, to better engage the issues of authenticity raised here, let me briefly examine a key precedent in the presentation of evidence at the Nuremberg Trial. As is well known, the chief strategy of the prosecution in this long trial was based on overwhelming documentary evidence, rather than on eyewitness testimony. But several spectacular moments of the trial, as Lawrence Douglas has shown, were devoted to the deployment of particularly gruesome artifacts derived (or purportedly derived)

Different Trains • 37

from human remains. Two authentic items were a shrunken head and a section of flayed, tattooed human skin, presented not so much as evidence but to function, “at worst, as grotesque artifacts offered more to satisfy voyeuristic impulses than to clarify questions of legal guilt.”9 That is, Douglas suggests, these remnants functioned more as symbols than as pieces of evidence entered into the legal record. For Douglas, they serve as representations of “crimes of atavism,” indicating that the Holocaust was an eruption of savagery in the midst of an otherwise modern and bureaucratic phenomenon; “by serving as an icon of atavism, the shrunken head presented an image of atrocity familiar to liberal jurisprudence: of the law as civilization’s bulwark against barbarism.”10 In this way, the head especially signified the uniquely atavistic nature of the Nazis’ “crimes against humanity.” As if in response to the implicit symbolism of the shrunken head, prosecutors at the Nuremberg trial presented one additional artifact meant, in Douglas’s reading, to endorse a counter-­argument for the nature of Nazi savagery. This was the presentation by Soviet prosecutor L. N. Smirnov of a now infamous bar of soap, allegedly produced from human fat, as evidence that Nazi barbarism involved the height of calculated evil and the commodification of the human body. Rumors of Nazi human-­soap production had circulated in Poland at least since the fall of 1942, and during the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem in 1961 the rendering of human fat into soap continued to serve as a cultural touchstone, but no evidence has ever been found to support the claim that the Nazis ever did convert human fat into soap.11 Nonetheless, the symbolic value of the alleged soap as evidence persists: “If the head served as a figure of atavistic practice, the soap represented a grotesque triumph of the very logic of efficient production upon which the economy of civilization is based.”12 Although less gruesome, the Holocaust-­era railway car functions symbolically in a similar manner—­as an icon of modern, industrialized mass murder, an artifact instrumental in the processing of human beings into commodities, whose unusable parts were tossed, literally, onto ash heaps, the byproducts of a kind of manufacturing process.13 For Douglas, this “bureaucratic model of Nazi atrocity” is represented in Raul Hilberg’s historiography, which has “found expression in artifacts of extermination that have long since become quintessential icons of the Holocaust: a discarded canister of Zyklon B, a photo of railway tracks converging at the Birkenau entrance, a pyramid of eyeglasses.”14 To this list, especially owing to the strategies of the contemporary Holocaust museum or memorial, I would

38  •  Holocaust Icons

add the railway car, perhaps the supreme example of a Holocaust object become Holocaust icon. Behind these questions concerning authenticity, evidence, and emplacement (all unique to the discussion of material remnants) are ideas about sacred space and materiality, about the religious engagement with sites of memory and mourning and about the impact on that engagement of decisions concerning emplacement and displacement. These bring up a series of issues that extend beyond the bounds of this chapter but that nonetheless hover in the background: these concern the meaning of property and its propriety, the specific treatment of sacred objects, fetishization, reproducibility, monumentality, mystification, and mythologization. I formulate my response to these issues by focusing on strategies of display and deployment that include the dis-­and replacement of Holocaust-­era artifacts in museum and memorial environments far from their “homes.” I argue that the disjunction caused by such emplacement strategies is at least partially responsible for the sacrality attributed to these objects in their artificially constructed contexts: separated from their natural environments, their sacred qualities, and thus their iconic nature, are accentuated (this also recalls Reich’s compositional process in selecting certain testimonial excepts that emphasize his role as secondary witness). Thus the symbolism of these objects is highlighted, so that subtle differences in display become more meaningful, and the objects can be seen to express deeper differences in (in this case) ideas about Holocaust memory. This symbolic expression is enhanced by the emplacement of these artifacts in specific memorial environments, which, in turn, sometimes exude a sacred aura. Finally, the sacrality attributed to these objects when placed in certain environments bears a structural similarity to the classic notion of the fetish or totemic object—­that is, an item invested with religious significance and power by the group for whom it is important and which it often symbolizes. Thus, in assessing the symbolic legacy of the Holocaust through its artifacts, I focus here on issues surrounding space, place, and emplacement in an analysis of one quintessential Shoah artifact, the railway car. In this analysis, I develop a typology of strategies or ideologies of memorial/museological deployment of the Holocaust-­era railway car by examining a series of trains—­four of the earliest examples of the display of railway boxcars, at: the Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center for Education and Tolerance (DHMCET), the United States Holocaust Memorial

Different Trains • 39

Museum in Washington, DC (USHMM), the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg (FHM), and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Significantly, these four cases all utilize the same type of railway car, a coincidence that may originate in the photographic record of deportations. According to Alfred Gottwaldt, senior curator of railways at the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, and the foremost expert on wartime-­era German railway cars, the well-­known images from the so-­called Lili Jacob album (more commonly known as the Auschwitz Album), which included photographs taken by Ernst Hofmann or Bernhard Walter in late May 1944 documenting the arrival of a transport of Jews from Subcarpathian Rus, then part of Hungary, helped create the iconic image of this particular type of railway car used in the deportation of Jews.15 The range of uses of this type of railway car accentuates the iconicity of the artifact, and though there has been a proliferation of examples of such railcars set in a variety of locations, the four I discuss here (along with a fifth artistic case, addressed later) remain paradigmatic.16 As noted, I am focusing on railway cars for several reasons: they are among the most powerful and resonant artifacts of the Holocaust; their

FIGURE 6.   Jews from Subcarpathian Rus, recently arrived on “Karlsruhe”-­type railway cars,

await selection on the ramp at Auschwitz-­Birkenau, May 1944. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Yad Vashem.

40  •  Holocaust Icons

size makes their installation and inclusion in a museological or memorial narrative or presentation no small undertaking, and they were literal vehicles of suffering, appropriately transformed into vehicles of memory. As anyone who has ever watched a significant part of Claude Lanzmann’s film Shoah or read the groundbreaking research of Raul Hilberg knows, trains are some of the most significant and recurring images and symbols of the Holocaust, for they represent a monumental turning point in the destruction of European Jewry: deportation via railway marked a key systemic shift from mobile murderers and stationary victims to stationary murderers and mobile victims.17

Space, Place, and Material Culture Any deployment of a Holocaust-­era railway car takes place in a particular location. More than any other symbol or icon, this particular iconic artifact represents the Holocaust not only by its materiality but also through its physicality, its occupation of a specific space at a particular point in time—­its performativity. These considerations call attention to theoretical issues surrounding the distinction between space and place. Vivian Patraka, a scholar of theater and performance studies, in a discussion of the contemporary cultural “performance” of the “Holocaust,” turns to Michel de Certeau’s distinction between space and place for useful guidance. As Patraka reads de Certeau, the distinction concerns the different narratives of meaning associated with each term. Place invokes stability and the “law of the ‘proper,’” where two things cannot coexist in the same location; space is multiple, so that it “‘occurs as the effect produced by the operations that orient it, situate it, temporalize it, and make it function in a polyvalent way.’”18 In other words, place carries within it a singular notion of emplacement: something is here, not there, in one place and not the other. But space implies something more complex, where the space an object occupies, and the manner in which it occupies that space, can evoke several places simultaneously. For example, if a Holocaust-­era railway car is displayed as a memorial in Jerusalem, its spatial deployment simultaneously evokes its place of origin in Europe and its contemporary emplacement in Israel. We might say that the object itself determines its place, but space is determined by the subject viewing the object. Place calls our attention to the proper home of the object in question; space calls our attention

Different Trains • 41

to the environment and our own subject positions as we engage the object in question. These observations raise questions of how displays of railway cars create spaces of Holocaust memorialization, and how the strategies of emplacement established in these spaces, and the places (and ideologies) evoked and invoked by those strategies, affect the symbolic function of the artifact. Attending to displacement, in particular—­to the shift of an object from its original “home” to a new one—­leads to a sharper focus on space and its multiple, symbolic meanings. How the Holocaust is brought “home” in the context of its memorialization is not only a function of static emplacement, however. This domestication of the Holocaust also underlies its active ritual commemoration, which is receiving increased critical attention as the number of and need for commemorative activities increase.19 Although ritual commemoration falls beyond the scope of this book, it bears noting that material culture can play an important role in many Holocaust commemoration activities, wherein simply visiting a Holocaust memorial or museum can constitute a ritual act. It may also be the expression of a religious doctrine or even an entire worldview. Social scientists Gary Brock and Marvin Prosono refer to this outlook as “Holocaustism.” Scholars of emerging religions, they describe and analyze the phenomenon of Holocaust commemoration in the context of the theoretical matrices of new religious movements, while rejecting the suggestion that what they call the “Holocaust movement” is a “cult or new religious movement in the strict or ideological sense.” Nonetheless, the authors identify eight characteristics of new religious movements that correlate with the growth of “Holocaustism,” and therefore propose that the Holocaust has become the basis of one such movement.20 Some of these characteristics are overly general, including the observations that new religious movements tend to be lay movements, that they often provide psychological benefits (at least in part by explaining one’s place in the world), and that they foster a sense of community.21 More constructively, both comparatively and for the ensuing discussion, Brock and Prosono observe that new religious movements tend to uphold generational distinctions (while focusing on the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next), that they are generally opposed to (or, in the case of the “Holocaust movement,” in constant tension with) the dominant culture, and that they are “persecution-­conscious.”22 Most applicable to the present analysis are the authors’ determination of the “unifying ideology” and four “core beliefs” of what they call Holocaustism: “uniqueness,

42  •  Holocaust Icons

exclusivity, threat, and remembrance (commemoration).”23 At least one of these, they maintain, is present in the rhetoric of any Holocaust institution or representation, thereby defining the parameters of post-­Holocaust doctrine. These beliefs echo a classic formulation by philosopher Adi Ophir, who, citing the Bible’s second commandment and its prohibition of idolatry, cynically decries the “four commandments of the new religion (Exod. 20:3): Thou shalt have no other holocaust before the Holocaust of the Jews of Europe; Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or likeness; Thou shalt not take the name of the Holocaust in vain; Remember.”24 Ophir’s famous essay warns that a “religious consciousness built around the Holocaust may become the central aspect of a new religion,” with its own “story of revelation.”25 To avoid this, he advocates rewriting the implied new commandments of the Holocaust in favor of a progressive, universal interpretation.26 In a similar manner, Brock and Prosono conclude their analysis by suggesting that the Holocaust movement “is developing ‘religious’ qualities both within mainstream Judaism and as a movement itself.”27 They note that this religiosity is but one stage in the evolution of such a movement, suggesting that “Holocaustism” may yet become further entrenched, institutionalized, and successful. In both examples, the authors focus on doctrinal issues: what is believed about the Holocaust in relation to one’s general worldview. In the years since their views were published the number of institutions dedicated to Holocaust remembrance has grown considerably; many of them do indeed appear to subscribe to the views outlined by Brock and Prosono and Ophir. But a new Holocaust “religion” has not yet appeared on the scene. Brock and Prosono and Ophir’s analyses of this emergent “religion” are founded upon a presumption of normativity, articulated as the first of “two distinct approaches to discussing the Holocaust as sacred,” as delineated by Jennifer Hansen-­Glucklich, a scholar of German literature: “The normative approach argues that the sanctity of the Holocaust is an ethical imperative: one ought to regard the Holocaust as sacred; we are commanded to do so. The analytic or theoretical approach, in contrast, asks how the conception of the Holocaust as sacred reveals something about the culture that holds this belief and examines the strategies that the culture employs in its representations.”28 That is, many, if not all, Holocaust institutions have been founded on the basis of the first approach: the “ought” of Holocaust remembrance is their reason for being. But in the realization of its mission, every Holocaust

Different Trains • 43

institution also needs to come to terms with other, apparently more mundane, concerns—­building a collection, recruiting docents, determining where to put the bathrooms, and many more. The intended sacrality of an institution may become lost in the mundanity of day-­to-­day operations, just as a preacher giving a sermon cannot control whether the congregants are listening. Hansen-­Glucklich’s second approach to the Holocaust’s sacrality reminds us of the constraints of emplacement and emplotment that often drive institutional decisions about the display of objects at least as much as does overall doctrine. It is true that Holocaust institutions are continually engaged in meaning-­ making activities, which support Holocaust-­centered worldviews that may at times approach the ethical imperative. But another, sometimes counteractive effect, can come from specific objects as they are situated within institutions. Individuals may find themselves drawn in by the gravitational pull of the institution, and they may also experience the attraction and gravitas of a particular item in the institution. In an increasing number of locations, that center of Holocaust gravity is the railway car, acting as a symbolic anchor and focal point for the institution that may have been literally built around it, and serving as a performance space for visitors enacting their own relationship to events represented there, as well as for the institution’s ideological expressions concerning the Shoah. As a type of object, it represents the Holocaust’s material iconicity.

The Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance The Dallas Memorial Center for Holocaust Studies (later renamed the Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center [DHMC], and most recently, in its new location, called the Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance) opened in April 1984, primarily the product of a small group of local Holocaust survivors who organized in 1977, led by Mike Jacobs.29 When Jacobs first descended to the downstairs space donated by the Dallas Jewish Community Center to become the DHMC, the stairs felt as if they were leading him into the railway boxcar he had been forced into as a child in wartime Poland when he was deported.30 Initially, Jacobs proposed building as the entrance to the center, a replicated boxcar made out of materials he could obtain from his scrap business.31 But soon he

44  •  Holocaust Icons

became committed to securing an authentic boxcar for the Dallas center, and he eventually located one held by the Belgian railway. As survivor Max Glauben, one of the initial group of founding members, described it, “The consensus was that if we could obtain one of those cars it would penetrate [people’s consciousness] . . . and make people understand how people were manipulated in such a barbarous way.”32 Although the Belgians were about to dispose of the outdated boxcar, Jacobs convinced them to donate it to the center (the initial request for payment of $850 was quickly dropped). Tracing the number Jacobs himself had copied from the car, they also assured him of its authenticity.33 Dallas is the only site of the four investigated here in depth that made such a bold claim as to its boxcar’s authenticity, though the claim may have originally been made simply because, as an early pioneer in obtaining a railcar, no one thought then to investigate too closely the nature of the car’s authenticity. It may also be that, primed to believe that such a railcar would indeed be authentic, the verbal assurances to the Dallas group from the Belgian railway authority vouching for the railcar’s authenticity were perceived at the time as sufficient.34 Today the museum’s audioguide segment on the railway car cites the radical shift in 1942 to the mobilization of victims rather than murderers, the economics of this change (“The Nazis contracted with railroad companies all across Europe to move victims at the cheapest prices. They negotiated group rate discounts for adults, half-­ price fares for children under ten and [dramatic pause] little ones under the age of four rode to the gas chambers for free”), and the iconic significance of such boxcars.35 But in describing the railway car on display, it now announces, “It is the same type as those used to transport Holocaust victims to their deaths.”36 Jacobs asked the Belgian railway authorities to remove the metal undercarriage and wheels to reduce the car’s weight, fearing expensive shipping charges (the shipping, by a German company, turned out to be free in the end). The railcar arrived on September 15, 1983, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and remained in the Jewish Community Center ( JCC) parking lot, something of an attraction, until its installation. According to the center’s previous audioguide, the car was shortened by one-­third to fit into the JCC space, but Jacobs has also suggested that, due to some survivors’ reluctance at being forced to enter the boxcar, it was shortened for that reason, to allow for an alternative entrance.37 The truncated railway car was placed at the entrance to the center, at the bottom of the stairs, so that

Different Trains • 45

visitors would pass through it, via a doorway cut in its end, on their way inside. Jacobs was adamant that all visitors, survivors and others, should pass through the boxcar,38 because of its position as a symbol of the suffering of Holocaust victims (and, I would add, because so many boxcars themselves, as the primary vehicles of deportation, served as initiations into the logic of the Nazi “final solution to the Jewish question”). Also, due to the boxcar’s placement within the structure of the former DHMC, many of its outer surfaces were not visible, so that only by entering could a visitor really view it. Its placement emphasized the boxcar’s internal features. Because of the logic and style of its placement, and despite its truncated length, the railway car in Dallas lent its authenticity to the Holocaust center. In this way, it invited visitors to identify with survivors who had themselves experienced deportation by train, and thereby to imagine their participation in the visitor’s experiential drama of discovery. But, because it was at the entrance to the center, the boxcar also possessed an initiatory character in its new home: its emplacement suggested that one had to pass through this space to arrive at any kind of understanding of the events represented inside. In this way, the DHMC privileged this symbolic, initiatory space over the narrative of deportation that might have been symbolized had the railcar been positioned differently—­that is, not squarely at the entrance to the exhibition. Itself a potent and recognizable symbol of initiation into the Nazi death-­world, the railway car lent that initiatory quality to the DHMC. And what of those already initiated? As I have noted, resistance from some other survivors regarding this forced entryway, through which some refused to pass as if once more enacting their own deportation, resulted in a hidden panel being built into the wall to the right of the boxcar. This secret doorway was normally reserved for those survivors who had no need or desire to again enter the vehicle symbolic of their own suffering, though others who knew about it also used it, including docents who wanted to avoid intruding upon school groups inside the car.39 This particular placement, however, no longer exists. In September 2004 the DHMC closed to visitors; it reopened in 2005 as the Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance (DHMCET) in a new, temporary space in downtown Dallas, in the city’s memorial nexus: just east of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. As of this volume’s publication (2015), this 1,900-­square-­foot temporary exhibit will remain until its permanent home nearby is completed. These changes were the

46  •  Holocaust Icons

result of a major expansion campaign, led by the institution’s late executive director Elliott Dlin, who had previously directed the Valley of the Communities at Yad Vashem. Now and in its future home, the DHMCET, no longer located at the Dallas JCC, may risk severing its association with Jewish history and experience. Gone as well will be the initiation experience descending a flight of narrow stairs into the boxcar—­a change that does not make all involved with the center happy. The DHMCET has not (yet) done away with the railcar, though. In its transitional space, the railway car has been rebuilt: using original boxcar material, the museum has reconstructed two of four complete walls, leaving the remaining end and side open but restoring the implied size of the railcar to its original dimensions. The reconstructed boxcar has been set on a fiberglass undercarriage built to mimic the original while showing clearly the new, reconstructed portions. Thus, though the railway car from the JCC site has been dismantled and reconfigured, the result is a partial reconstruction meant to look more authentic. However, visitors now encounter the railcar no longer as the defining moment of their initiation into the Holocaust, but rather as something of a tangential component of the new, albeit temporary exhibition. It is

FIGURE 7.   Reconstructed portion of Holocaust-­era railway car, Dallas Holocaust Museum

Center for Education and Tolerance. Photo courtesy of Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance.

Different Trains • 47

not part of the regular museum tour and is an “orphan display,” according to Sara Abosch, the DHMCET’s senior director of education (though its story has been restored over the past two years to docent training). The railcar still marks the crucial historical shift from mobile killers/stationary victims to mobile victims/stationary killers, with that shift’s concomitantly massive increase in Jewish deaths, but it is no longer highlighted in the museum narrative. (Meanwhile, the open side of the reconstructed boxcar features a video screen, set back from the opening, which shows archival footage of deportations.)40 As a result of these changes, the railcar now plays a different role in the museum. From its former location as structurally integrated with the entrance to the center, it has been moved to serve as an episode—­a critical one, for those who encounter it—­within the historical narrative of the Holocaust. In the process, the repositioning of the railcar resolves some museological challenges that were inherent to the original JCC placement. Considering that it was shortened, that it was missing its undercarriage, and that it had lights and sprinklers installed in its ceiling when it served as the entranceway to the DHMC, the railway car was in many ways “de-­authenticated” in the process that led to its former placement; now it has been re-­authenticated, as it were, despite its reconstruction.41 On the other hand, its reconstitution may in the end detract from the railcar’s former initiatory role, effecting a shift from the more emotional and experiential symbolism of the railway car as entranceway, to a more detached and historicized symbolism based on the apprehension of the railcar in its restored entirety, with its iconic nature emphasized.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) opened to the public on April 26, 1993. On that day, according to Edward Linenthal, “the Holocaust became an event officially incorporated into American memory.”42 As part of a massive artifact gathering operation, teams from the USHMM had scoured Europe for authentic objects to be donated or loaned to the museum.43 One group, led by Jacek Nowakowski, spotted a German railcar in Warsaw that had been used as a prop in a film. They determined it was a bona fide Deutsche Reichsbahn boxcar (later identified as of the “Karlsruhe” type), one of several types of cars used for

48  •  Holocaust Icons

deportation, and they negotiated its donation from the Polish government. However, when it arrived at the port of Baltimore on July 6, 1989, in a media event coordinated by the museum’s Public Affairs Office, it sported a new coat of paint, courtesy of the Polish authorities. Clearly, the Poles had wanted to make their donation look presentable to its recipients (and perhaps had intended to protect it, as suggested by Martin Smith, then museum designer and director of its permanent exhibition, in a promotional video on the railcar’s installation),44 but many on the museum staff felt this was symbolic of a Polish desire to cover up the past. For a while, the car sat in a shed in Maryland, poorly protected from deterioration from the elements or from accidents. Like other museum artifacts, the railcar was finally treated according to the latest techniques of historical preservation and restoration; before its installation in the museum (which was still under construction), the car was shipped to North Carolina, and there a “specialist working with a medical scalpel and an X-­ray machine peeled away nine layers of paint and managed to restore the railcar to its wartime appearance.” But, according to the director of the museum’s storage facility at the time, they “‘did more damage to that railcar . . . than had been done in [its] natural environmen[t].’”45 Following its restoration, the railcar was lowered into the museum’s construction site, incorporated into a design that had been modified to accommodate it, so that the rest of the USHMM was literally built around the railway car. Like the railcar at the former Dallas site, the one in Washington is an unavoidable element of the visitor’s experience, one that a visitor is encouraged to pass through. But whereas, in Dallas, the boxcar formerly served as the entranceway to the exhibit (and now sits partially reconstructed in its midst), in Washington the railcar stands as a fully intact artifact incorporated into the museum’s historical narrative. One gets a first glimpse of the railcar soon after entering the third-­floor space, dedicated to the “Final Solution, 1940–­45,” from a section paved with cobblestones that once covered a street in the Warsaw ghetto. Once through the ghetto section, the car is visible again, at the entrance to the section on deportations, set below the exhibition level on which visitors walk. There is more open space around the car than in the former DHMC or the current DHMCET exhibitions, allowing the visitor here a full view of the complete artifact and setting it off as an object with special status. It is placed on tracks from Treblinka, lending the appearance of a railway car in a more authentic-­looking environment.

FIGURE 8.   Installation of Holocaust-­era railway car at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum construction site, Washington, DC, February 9, 1991. Photo by Arnold Kramer, courtesy of US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

50  •  Holocaust Icons

That sense is heightened and dramatized by suitcases, made to look as if they have been discarded by persons entering the car, that lie scattered next to the rails. As at the former Dallas location, it is possible for visitors to avoid passing through the car, but in this case there is no secret door, only a way around it by turning left (leading directly to a replica of the Auschwitz “Arbeit macht frei” gate, thereby also avoiding most of the section on deportations). Most visitors do appear to go through, but it is important to note that they are prevented from exploring the inside of the car by railings, and a metal plate prevents visitors from treading upon the actual wood floor, so that, although the railcar is internally visible, it is not quite fully accessible. Inside, the car appears as it would have at the time: interior lighting has not been installed, and there is a dramatic effect from the shafts of museum light that filter in through the narrow windows of the boxcar, and from the musty smell of the wood. Here, the railcar is presented as a restored, fully visible, partially accessible artifact, carefully monitored as to condition. From the start, there was a meticulous concern at the USHMM for historical accuracy and for the manner in which the railway car would be integrated into the museum narrative. In the promotional video, Smith notes that there would be nothing inside the car except a visitor’s thoughts. He also discusses rejecting several “crazy” suggestions concerning its display, including rocking the car and playing taped screams to accentuate its effect.46 Instead, the USHMM’s planners and designers concentrated on presenting the car as a historically accurate artifact that would speak for itself within the context of a chronologically organized exhibition narrative. How it would “speak” was of course a function not only of its display but also of its representation through exhibition labels and other identifying texts. In this matter, there is an interesting contrast to the Dallas railcar, for here too the issue of its deadly authenticity was central. A press release announcing the car’s arrival, disseminated by the US Holocaust Memorial Council (the body formed by Jimmy Carter’s President’s Commission on the Holocaust and charged with bringing the museum to fruition), stated the following: “A railroad freight car used to transport thousands of Jews to a Nazi killing center in Poland in 1942–­43 has been donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by the Polish government. The freight car, one of a handful of its kind surviving, will be offloaded from the Polish ship MS Stefen Starznski.”47 Of course, this claim of authenticity was based on assurances from Polish

Different Trains • 51

FIGURE 9.   Suitcases belonging to Jewish death camp deportees, beside the railcar display at

the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Photo by Edward Owen, courtesy of US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

authorities. In a series of letters and memoranda, several Poles attested to the car’s status. For example, the deputy director general of the Polish State Railroad system, Jerzy Przewlocki, agreed “to donate the rail car in which Jews were transported to Treblinka during [the] Nazi occupation of Poland.” Jacek Wilczur, chief specialist, and Kazimierz Kakol, director of the Principal Commission for Investigating Hitlerite Crimes in Poland, in a request to the shipper to charge the lowest possible tariffs for transporting the car, declared that it “is one of those cars in which the Germans hauled people to the extermination camps on Polish soil.” In another letter from Kakol, this time to the US Holocaust Memorial Council announcing the gift of the railcar, it is again described as “one of those used by [N]azi executioners to transport the Jewish inhabitants of Warsaw to the Treblinka death camp.” Finally, Jan Kaminski, director of the Polish State Railways Museum, provides some “particulars” of the car to Washington, adding, “during the [N]azi occupation of Polish territories, this car was used to transport cattle and also to transport people to German

52  •  Holocaust Icons

extermination centers. We do not have in our possession any detailed documentation concerning this car.”48 Clearly, Polish authorities involved with the donation of the railway car were concerned with validating its authenticity. But when USHMM authorities began their work planning museum exhibition labels, which entailed authenticating the Polish claims, they found them lacking. Significant here is an internal memo written by David Luebke, then staff historian for the USHMM Permanent Exhibition and currently a professor of history at the University of Oregon, who worried that the museum’s “public statements about [the railcar] are inconsistent with the evidence.”49 Reviewing the Polish claims, Luebke found that “there is no positive evidence that it was used to transport any Jews, whether to Treblinka or anywhere else.”50 Relying on a report prepared by Alfred Gottwaldt, in which Gottwaldt summarized conservator Thomas Troszak’s findings during his investigation of the railcar (which included the discovery of the car’s original German wartime identification number), Luebke suggested at best a “probability of about 1:11 that our particular car was used for any deportation.”51 Luebke continued: “Aesthetically, of course, none of this matters much. People were deported in freight cars identical to ours, whether or not the artifact itself was ever used in this way. Furthermore, its physical presence on the third floor underscores the role of railroads and railroad officials in the process of genocide, just as it should.”52 So Luebke recommended, in the end, that the label for the railcar exhibit emphasize that this car was identical to the type used for deportations, without claiming this car itself was used for such purposes. This is precisely how the label describes the railway car in the USHMM. Luebke then finished, “I fear that many people already expect to find a bona fide deportation freight car in the Holocaust Museum, and I hate to disappoint them.”53 Luebke’s memorandum highlights the USHMM’s supreme concern for historical accuracy, especially regarding the placement and presentation of its authentic artifacts. At the same time, his concluding remarks reveal the pressure the museum’s officials felt to offer visitors authentic experiences based on real Holocaust artifacts. It would not be fair to compare the USHMM’s treatment of the railcar’s authenticity to the DHMC’s, given the great difference in the size and scope of the two institutions as well as differences in their age and genesis, especially since the DHMCET has backed away from earlier claims, made at its former location, to authenticity. Such a comparison also would not be fair because the USHMM

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is located in the nation’s capital, with broad responsibilities related to its financial and political ties to the US government, whereas the DHMC was, in its inception, a homegrown, ad hoc, local operation. Nonetheless, the Washington museum’s attention to historically verifying its railcar’s authenticity and provenance and to its accurate placement in the museum narrative accentuates the USHMM’s concern for clear and unambiguous integration of such artifacts into the broad physical and ideological structure of the museum. One might see the boxcar’s chronological integration within the museum as a reflection of the museum’s own privileging of the historian’s perspective and of its dependence on the particular historical narrative of the Holocaust first propounded by Raul Hilberg and dominant ever since, a narrative that focuses on the experience of deportation by cattle car as central to the paradigmatic narrative of the destruction process.54 This interest in a demystified strategy of historical integration is evident as well in the USHMM’s educational use of the railway car. According to Shari Werb, the museum’s former director of educational and public programs, there were curious things happening around the railcar during the first set of guided tours the USHMM offered to public school students: guides were often asking students to imagine what it might have been like to be deported in such a boxcar. Museum education officials were uncomfortable with this, thinking it was disrespectful and not quite tenable; they wanted a more intellectual, less emotional approach to artifacts such as the railway car. In that particular case, Werb and others focused more on describing the boxcar, without endorsing students’ imagination outright, and supported identification with the experience of deportation only from those survivor-­g uides who could claim such experience.55 Similarly, Warren Marcus, the museum’s former director of teacher workshops and education, and currently the educator for global classroom and evaluation in the museum’s National Institute for Holocaust Education, stresses that he discouraged teachers from using the railway car for simulations of deportation; he is against, for example, teachers marking out the dimensions of the car on the floor of their classrooms and forcing students to stand close together within those boundaries to imagine the experience of being inside such a vehicle. His idea here is that one cannot really know what it was like to be inside a railway car used for deportation during the Holocaust, but that one can learn about that experience from historical artifacts and survivor testimonies.56 We see here a careful negotiation of museum attendees’

54  •  Holocaust Icons

distance from the artifact that is reflected in the way the railway car is positioned and displayed. What all this points to is a presentational strategy we might call integration or contextualization: the railway car at the USHMM is presented as a preserved artifact of the time in demystified terms (i.e., normalized, not fetishized) that emphasize historical accuracy and authentication, privileging history and countering potential Holocaust denial. The museum’s presentation of the railcar blends the experiential (walking through it) with the historical (the car as preserved and authentic artifact), extending the initiatory experience once felt in Dallas to an experience more focused on historical understanding and measured comprehension. Further, the railcar’s contextualization runs parallel to the ideology of the entire museum: set close to the mall that defines the heart of the museological and memorial landscape of the nation’s capital, the USHMM, in its inception, was also engaged in a constant struggle to define its position vis-­à-­vis the central American institutions it would call its neighbors. The careful strategy of historical integration, represented by the presentation and placement of the railway car, echoes the museum’s quest to define its relationship to American memory and the Holocaust’s status on US soil.57

The Florida Holocaust Museum Inspired by the Dallas center, Florida’s Walter Loebenberg determined to secure an authentic boxcar for the Tampa Bay Holocaust Memorial Museum and Educational Center he founded at the Jewish Community Center in Madeira Beach, which operated from 1992 until 1998, when it moved to new quarters in downtown St.  Petersburg. In 1999 it was renamed the Florida Holocaust Museum and it is now billed as one of the largest Holocaust museums in the United States.58 Like Mike Jacobs and Jacek Nowakowski, Loebenberg worked tirelessly with European authorities (Poles, in this case) to get the railcar to its new home: it arrived in 1990 and was dedicated outside the Madeira Beach facility in 1993. It remained outside, on display, until its installation inside the new building prior to its opening in 1998. The Florida Holocaust Museum is proud that its boxcar is the only one (at least in the United States, as of the date when it was first installed) that had not been altered in any way (whether through truncation, reconstruction, or restoration). Like many of the World War II–­era

Different Trains • 55

railway cars, this boxcar dates back to World War I: its metal parts date to 1913, and the rest was built in 1919.59 It is identified in the museum’s literature as “Auschwitz boxcar #113 0695–­5,” though Steve Goldman, the museum’s former director, suggested that the identification number may postdate World War  II; Gottwaldt presumes this number comes from the Polish Railways.60 It is simply the most legible identifying number on the car. The FHM has not gone to great lengths to trace the car’s provenance, but neither does it identify the car as one actually used to transport Jews. The St. Petersburg museum also offers an important supplement to the basic deportation narrative symbolized by the railway car: while pressure-­cleaning the car after its arrival in Florida, workers discovered a ring that had evidently been knocked loose by the force of the water hoses. After having it examined, museum officials confirmed that the ring dated to the Holocaust era and speculated that it was hidden or lost by a girl or woman en route to a camp. The ring is now prominently displayed next to the railcar. The boxcar dominates the Florida museum, sitting in the central atrium of its exhibition area, and features prominently in its website, but, due to the layout of the exhibition, it is not visible until the end of the typical museum experience and narrative. It too sits on tracks from Treblinka and, although open as long as it sat outside the Madeira Beach site (and subsequently sometimes opened for promotional photographs), it now remains closed while on display, out of respect for the survivors who had asked that it remained closed.61 Unlike the DHMC or the USHMM versions, this boxcar does not constitute a passageway that the visitor must or should traverse: one cannot avoid looking at it, but walking through it is impossible. One may walk all around it and investigate it closely; one may even touch its outside surfaces (no bells go off, no guard says “No!”), but the interior remains inaccessible, thus denying visitors the experiential component available at the USHMM. The policy permitting visitors to touch the railcar relates to the museum’s attitude toward preservation of the boxcar: rather than focus too much on conservation, Goldman viewed the car as a piece of “rolling stock.” It has to be kept lubricated and periodically fumigated, and the wood requires some special attention, but otherwise the Florida museum sees the car as more of a working relic than a precious artifact. To round out the railcar’s presentation, the museum formerly offered for sale an “artist’s interpretation” of its boxcar (as previously described in the website’s virtual gift shop) as a tzedaka, or

FIGURE 10.   Child’s or woman’s ring, on display at the Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL. Photo courtesy of the Florida Holocaust Museum.

FIGURE 11.   Railway car in the atrium of the Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL.

Photo courtesy of the Florida Holocaust Museum.

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charity box.62 In response to my suggestion that this was kitschy, Goldman countered that, since no survivors on the board of the museum took offense, it was an acceptable representation.63 Although this object has not been available for sale for years, I refer to it and reproduce its image here because it so powerfully reflects the materiality and iconic quality of the railway car on display at the Florida Holocaust Museum, scaled down to maximize accessibility. Because the railway car in St. Petersburg is closed, it suggests a representational strategy distinct from those already discussed. Clearly, keeping it closed preserves its mysterious quality, requiring visitors to supplement what they see of the railcar’s exterior with mental images of the experiences of those who endured its interior—­or, rather, the interior of boxcars like it. Keeping the car closed thus preserves its sanctity, as it were, since no one is now allowed to enter and thereby experience and perhaps violate its inner space through physical presence. (This claim to physical purity is complicated by the fact that, as long as it sat outside in Madeira Beach, it remained open to visitors.) This museological strategy presents the inside of the car as off-­limits, implying that at least some of the Holocaust is off-­limits as well. “You cannot truly understand what it was like,” the FHM appears to be saying, “so don’t try.” This impossibility of knowing and experiencing

FIGURE 12.   Tzedaka (charity) box replica of a Holocaust-­era railway car, formerly available

at the gift shop, Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL. Author’s photo, reproduced with permission.

58  •  Holocaust Icons

the Holocaust through the railcar shifts the focus onto the artifact itself, whose outside surfaces are the most accessible of any of the railway cars investigated here. This message of unknowability coupled with the enhanced value of the artifact itself is augmented by the story of the child’s ring, which naturally evokes the poignant specificity of one child’s experience of deportation, though that story, like the interior of the railcar, is shrouded in mystery. We may never know the real, complete story of the child’s ring and its wearer. But in the tzedaka box(car), the St. Petersburg museum did, at one time, offer a practical and tangible point of accessibility to the mysteries of Holocaust deportation. In purchasing and, presumably, using one of these artistic interpretations of the railway car, a visitor could both recall her time at the museum and actively remember the Holocaust through charitable giving. In this way, the railway car, already presented as a powerful though somewhat inscrutable symbol, was transformed into a vehicle, not of suffering, but of charity and remembrance. That the Holocaust-­era boxcar may also be instrumentalized and commodified in the process may be beside the point. More than at Washington and the former Dallas location, the Florida Holocaust Museum focuses on and highlights the symbolic potential of its railway car in its totality, presenting it as the central artifact and narrative climax of the exhibition. In so doing—­in positioning the railway car outside the context of its place in the historical narrative of the Holocaust—­the FHM trades historical integration for symbolic power. By closing the boxcar to exploration, the FHM avoids the direct identification with which educators at the USHMM are so uncomfortable, encouraging a more indirect imaginative identification. And yet, in two distinct ways, the St.  Petersburg museum complicates this more open-­ ended representational strategy. By displaying the child’s ring, museum officials have personalized the story of deportation implied by the railway car even in its specific, dehistoricized location, focusing its more generic symbolism onto a specific, though still unknown, narrative of one child’s experience, thus adding to the railcar’s mystery. But by formerly marketing the tzedaka-­box replica, the museum has made of the symbolic, mysterious boxcar an everyday object to be played with and used, domesticating the Holocaust in the process, bringing it into the home and, perhaps, removing its otherworldly horror and mystery.64 In these ways, the Florida Holocaust Museum’s use of the railway car evidences an ambivalent

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or even multivalent approach to remembrance: the museum wants to encourage both the mysterious, off-­limits quality of the Holocaust and a hands-­on, instrumentalized approach to its use and relevance. The combination results in a heightened degree of symbolism that possibly veers into fetishization of the railway car and its significance.

Yad Vashem These issues of symbolization and instrumentalization are taken even further at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial institution and authority, located in Jerusalem. Here, a railway car is the central element of Israeli architect Moshe Safdie’s 1995 Memorial to the Deportees. Perched over the edge of one of the many pine-­filled valleys surrounding Israel’s memorial mountain,65 the Memorial to the Deportees features another railway car donated by Polish authorities. This car sits on a sheared iron railway bridge, suspended in time and space over the steep hill. To many, the meaning is clear: this is the end of the line, as it was for so many deportees, abrupt and violent—­a moment symbolized by the twisted ends of the rails. But rather than symbolize death at the hands of the Nazis, Safdie means to represent a different brutality; his website states that the memorial depicts the “replicated remains of a bridge after an explosion.”66 Safdie’s image suggests an alternative (but no less violent), possibly heroic, ending to the story of deportation, in which one might imagine a band of partisans blowing up a bridge like this one, despite knowing that innocent deportees on a railway car headed for the breach would suffer; this image replaces the imagined scene of horror and abuse accompanying the train’s arrival at a death camp and restores some sense of agency to otherwise passive victims.67 This is the most aestheticized of the four actual railway car artifacts I discuss in this chapter. The boxcar at the Memorial to the Deportees is carefully emplaced to maximize its monumental effect. It is also the least accessible: not only may we not touch it or go inside it, but we cannot even get near it; it is set off at the end of a simulated railway line, totally out of reach. This example is also the only one of the four actual railway cars examined that is situated outdoors (a more natural setting for a railway car); though part of Yad Vashem’s museum complex, it is not inside a building.68 Here, the scene of deportation must be totally imagined, though the memorial provides some assistance. For example, the viewing platform at the visitor’s end

60  •  Holocaust Icons

FIGURE 13.   Moshe Safdie, Memorial to the Deportees (1995), Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. Cour-

tesy of Yad Vashem Photo Archive, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

of the memorial features the famous poem by Dan Pagis, “Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-­Car” as its stone-­etched epigraph: “here in this carload / i am eve / with abel my son / if you see my other son / cain son of man / tell him that i.” This text gives voice to a deportation scene as it is symbolically reenacted before us—­the penciled text become epitaph, the writer interrupted perhaps by the arrival at a death camp and the opening of the railcar’s doors, or by another deportee—­offering a poetic-­linguistic image that supplements the visual image before our eyes. The railcar becomes the physical referent for the poem’s supposed enactment, so that the visitor imagines it is this car that contained and yielded this written message (though that is not the case), producing a fictionalized artifact of authenticity distinct from the boxcar presented at the USHMM. It must be noted, however, that this reading of the poem suggests an ending different from the more heroic one Safdie intended for the memorial, setting Safdie’s intentions at odds with what would be the memorial’s official, if under-­articulated, message as implied by this use of Pagis’s poem as an exhibition label. Yad Vashem’s Memorial to the Deportees, in its use of the railway car, presents a monumental interpretation of Holocaust iconicity. Distinct from the three preceding cases, all of which provide some sort of

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accessibility to the railway car as a historical museum artifact housed indoors, Israel’s Holocaust memorial authority offers instead a railway car completely transformed into a monumental icon. The vehicle of suffering has become a central component of a public art installation, one designed to communicate a specific political message. What is that message? By utilizing the railway car in this way, Safdie dramatizes a heroic narrative of the Holocaust, in which transports to the camps are disrupted by explosions—­set, presumably, by Jewish partisans intent on not going to their deaths like “sheep to the slaughter.” In this reading, Pagis’s poem depicts the sudden interruption of its imagined writing as arising from the explosion set by the resistance, and not by a Nazi opening the railcar’s door at a death camp. In this heroic context, the Memorial to the Deportees takes a central symbol of Jewish suffering during World War II and places it in the open—­set monumentally within the Judean landscape rather than within an historically emplotted placement—­as if to guarantee that here, under the protection of the Jewish state, the deportations will never again happen. This promise comes about at least partially because the resistance dramatized in its exploded bridge setting is presented as leading ideologically toward, and culminating in, the Jewish State. In its new home, the railway car is but a remnant of a past that has passed—­a past that led to the creation of the state of Israel, whose continued existence ensures that the railway car, symbolic of the deportation of Jews, remains only a relic. Integrated monumentally into the foundational narrative of the Jewish State in this way, the Holocaust-­era railway car has left its former station of meaningless death and destruction, arriving at (or at least on its way to) its symbolic terminus and (un)intended destination: Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel.

Ideologies of Holocaust Remembrance These four examples show how mute railway cars, quintessential iconic artifacts of the Shoah, both represent and embody the Holocaust. As I have suggested, a particular version of, and strategy for, Holocaust memorialization is expressed in each case, particularly in the manner in which each boxcar has been displaced and used as the basis for a memorial environment. I must stress that these performances, as I read them, may not have been intentional and, indeed, were likely the result of many factors, not

62  •  Holocaust Icons

all under the control of their sponsoring institutions. Such factors include financial constraints, architectural limitations, and the personalities of key individuals involved in procuring and situating the artifacts. Although this reading may be an idiosyncratic one, it nonetheless does not preclude my suggestion that the placement of these railway cars reveals underlying, perhaps unconscious, ideologies of Holocaust remembrance, or that, taken together, these uses of a major type of object are evidence of its iconicity. It should also be stressed that these ideologies or strategies are not mutually exclusive; more than one may be present at each site analyzed here. Indeed, as the cases proliferate, it is possible that additional symbolic types or subtypes may emerge. Nonetheless, and despite the fact that there are at least thirty-­five known cases of Holocaust-­era railway cars used in memorial or museological settings, the typology presented here, and the ideologies of display implied therein, continues to hold and remain relevant.69 Let me therefore summarize the basic terms of these ideologies, as read out from the railway cars. The former DHMC exhibited a memorial strategy of initiation: those who were not there cannot truly know; for anyone to understand something about the Holocaust s/he must be initiated, however symbolically, into the community of those already initiated, represented by the entrance through the boxcar. At the USHMM, the strategy is one of (perhaps forced) integration on at least two levels: the placement of the intact railcar in the midst of the museum’s chronological (not to mention architectural) narrative integrates it within the Holocaust’s dominant historiography, and it also parallels the siting of the museum on the mall in the nation’s capital. Here, the Holocaust is something that “belongs” in the broader American narrative (perhaps out of guilt?), and its memorial representation, just like the boxcar, is something everyone really should go through (the ethical imperative), though one’s experience is carefully controlled so as not to depart from historical accountability.70 In both of these cases, experiencing the railcar on some level is valued, though explicit dramatization is eschewed. The FHM posits a more complex memorial strategy, as it is one of ambivalent symbolism: on one hand, the boxcar is a mystery box, closed off to those who would enter and thereby appropriate it, thus set off and accentuated in the visitor’s imagination (Goldman has evoked the image of radio as opposed to television drama). We are outsiders here, literally (because we cannot gain entrance to the inside) and we cannot therefore experience anything of the interiority of Holocaust at first hand. But the

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railcar itself is placed in such a way that it is demystified, normalized, all too real: it is down on ground level, most of its external surfaces totally accessible. Thus, despite the mystery implied by the closed boxcar, the message is that the Holocaust will not be sanctified through its representation and memorialization: the railcar may be a charged, mysterious symbol, but it remains an ordinary artifact. However, the story of the ring and, especially, the tzedaka box, serve to concretize, personalize, and, ultimately, instrumentalize the railway car, capitalizing on its mysterious aspect; both suggest the ultimate fetishization (in the literal, anthropological sense) of Holocaust objects. Combined, the message of the Florida museum is that the Holocaust is understood to be unique and universal—­ sacred and profane—­at the same time. This is represented in the museum’s problematic stance as an “eleven million” place, one that emphasizes a purported and inaccurate larger estimate of Nazism’s direct victims—­ six million Jews plus five million others, symbolized in the museum’s entranceway, framed by eleven eternal flames—­in a manner that attempts to hold onto both the Jewish specificity of the Holocaust and its broader universal relevance.71 Finally, Yad Vashem offers a monumental (and aesthetic) strategy, presenting the railcar in a carefully designed environment meant to reinforce Israel’s own mythologization of the Holocaust (and its own justification for being): the “Holocaust and heroism” or “destruction and redemption” paradigm.72 Yad Vashem’s website formerly stated, “Although symbolizing the journey toward annihilation and oblivion, facing as it does the hills of Jerusalem the memorial also conveys the hope and the gift of life of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, eternal capital of the Jewish people.”73 Perhaps because the displacement carried out in the American sites remains unresolved (no one can claim that these objects really belong in the United States), the sanctity of the Holocaust and its remembrance are mitigated. At Yad Vashem, however, the re-­placement of the railcar, brought “home” (though not domesticated) to perch precariously over a Jerusalem valley, brings about the re-­creation of a Holocaust place as a memorial island within the broader space defined by nation-­building. Four modes of Holocaust memorialization and iconization appear here: initiatory, integrative, ambivalent, and monumental. Each one works, by way of spatial emplacement and association, to inspire different kinds of identification with and memorialization of the people and the events symbolized by those boxcars. Furthermore, according to terms established by

64  •  Holocaust Icons

Geertz and others, each memorial site encapsulated in the presentation of its railway car presents a rich religio-­cultural environment deserving of scrutiny, marked as each one is by the perceived sanctity of its central artifact. In each case, the displacement and replacement of a Holocaust-­ era boxcar in a museum and/or memorial setting accentuates the railway car’s function both as a symbol of the Holocaust and something more: as a (sometimes literal) point of entry into the worldviews and meanings generated in its aftermath. Against Brock and Prosono’s summary of a central fourfold doctrine of “Holocaustism” (“uniqueness, exclusivity, threat, and remembrance”) as normative for a post-­Holocaust worldview, or Ophir’s, I suggest the four modes introduced and outlined here offer an alternative, analytical typology of ideological perspectives arising from a key icon of the Holocaust. They also reveal some of the rich symbolic vocabulary of Holocaust memorialization as it arises from the employment of authentic Holocaust-­era artifacts and support the notion that the use and placement of such objects can have significant cultural impact and resonance. Thus, I propose that these four ideologies of Holocaust remembrance—­initiatory, integrative, ambivalent, and monumental—­as read out from the four cited examples of the display of railway cars, constitute a range of religio-­symbolic strategies available for memorializing the Holocaust and not limited to the display of artifacts. Understanding how the displays of Holocaust-­era railway cars implicitly or explicitly reflect and embody cultural concerns about remembrance offers further insight into the phenomenon of iconization, and applying these strategies of representation to additional cases and other fields that intersect with the Shoah may open up new insights into the “religious” roles the Holocaust plays today.74 Clearly, I have only scratched the surface of the memorial typology presented here. While the Holocaust-­era railway car is surely a powerful symbol of the suffering of Jews during World War  II and, consequently, much in demand as a critical component in some of the world’s most significant Holocaust memorial institutions, its application in each setting also exposes, upon close analysis, crucial differences in style and ideology at each of these sites. These differences tell us much not only about the different approaches to memorialization at these institutions but also reveal more general ideological and stylistic differences in Holocaust commemoration and representation in contemporary culture. Yet, when examined as a Holocaust icon, these differences in the use and presentation of the

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Holocaust-­era railway car ultimately reflect back on the power and potency of this artifact in its ability to embody and encapsulate a key and complex aspect of the Jewish experience under Nazism.

From Artifact to Artifice Just how potent is this artifact? Is there space for—­is there such a thing as—­ an inauthentic Holocaust icon? In 2006 Polish artist Robert Kuśmirowski unveiled Wagon (2006), created for the 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, “Of Mice and Men:” this railway car is not a relic or artifact; it is a replica, constructed and displayed as art, not as history. How does this replica impact our understanding of the railway car artifact as icon? Returning to the idea of aestheticization introduced in the discussion of Moshe Safdie’s Memorial to the Deportees, one might suggest that this is but an extension of the theme. Certainly the context of

FIGURE 14.   Robert Kuśmirowski, Wagon (2006), acrylic paint, paper, cardboard, and wood,

approx. 10 x 9 x 33 ft. Installation at the 4th Berlin Biennial “Of Mice and Men,” Berlin, 2006. Reproduced with permission of the artist and Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw. Photo courtesy of Sascha Pohflepp.

66  •  Holocaust Icons

this debut is significant: the venue for many of the works exhibited at the 4th Berlin Biennial, including Wagon, was a former Jewish school for girls (with its peeling wallpaper and graffiti intact). In fact the entire series of venues—­including private apartments and a cemetery—­along East Berlin’s 920-­meter-­long Auguststrasse devoted to the Biennial was saturated with the nearly forgotten history of Berlin’s Jews, in the Spandauer Vorstadt neighborhood of Berlin’s Mitte district. The nineteenth-­century new Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue, approximately one block south, had quickly became the center of the area’s Jewish community in its day, and in time a Jewish hospital, soup kitchen, and children’s home were established on Auguststrasse. In 1927–­1928, the Jewish community built the aforementioned Jewish school for girls at numbers 11–­13, marked by the street’s first modern design, by Alexander Beer.75 Indeed, an explicit focus of the 2006 Biennial was on everyday experiences and ordinary lives, as is reflected in this communal and architectural history.76 While the Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue survived the destruction of Kristallnacht, many Jewish institutions in the area did not; from 1941 to 1943, thousands of Jews were deported from a collection point at the former children’s home and hospital at numbers 14–­16. By the end of World War II, “Jewish life, which had characterized the area for almost two-­and-­a-­half centuries, was practically eradicated.”77 Remarkably, at the time of the publication of the Biennial’s exhibition catalog, some Jewish life had returned to the area, and there was even a kosher food store on Auguststrasse.78 So at first glance Kuśmirowski appears to be commenting on the site for his artistic installation, reflecting—­through the use of the iconic form of the railcar—­on the long history of Auguststrasse. This is not even the first case of the artistic display of Holocaust-­era railway cars: many of the memorials using actual railcars have aesthetic elements, the most elaborate being perhaps Jean Tinguely’s Le Cyclop (alternatively called Le Monstre dans la Foret), a twenty-­two-­meter-­high multiform steel structure weighing approximately 300 tons,79 while some other early memorials utilized forms reminiscent of the railway car. But Kuśmirowski’s railway car is a fake. Indeed, it is important to consider that this artist employs a recurring technique of replicating objects using ordinary materials, playing with themes of reconstruction and falsification: one of the most striking things about Wagon is that, despite its authentic appearance, it is entirely artificial. Against the debates at the USHMM and elsewhere about the authenticity of railway cars put on display, Kuśmirowski has created a completely inauthentic copy

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of a Holocaust-­era railcar, provoking reflection on the very act of displaying these large artifacts and, perhaps, commenting on the current museal obsession with acquiring the authentic vehicles of Jewish deportation and death and presenting them for public consumption. The artist is also stimulating reflection on the act of mediation: in a manner not unlike Steve Reich’s, Kuśmirowski is exercising his own aesthetic preferences for other people’s material. Wlodarski writes of Reich that, “He is a witness to their witnessing—­a mediator of their media—­ and thus his Different Trains is susceptible to the limitations of his own hearing and imagination.”80 For Wlodarski, this is a criticism of Reich’s transcription errors and, more broadly, of his failure to notify his audience of his own subjective perspective as a secondary witness. But in Kuśmirowski’s case, the role of secondary witness played by the artist is the one thing that is fully authentic. Wagon is, so to speak, an authentic fake.81 If the four cases of the use of actual railway cars discussed in this chapter show how and why such an artifact is iconic, Kuśmirowski’s authentic fake Holocaust-­era railcar drives the point home. For, despite the implied critique of material fetishization in the Holocaust memorial industry (echoing Ophir), the execution and display of Wagon ultimately speaks to that culture’s importance and unavoidability. People say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: Kuśmirowski’s replica shows just how real the actual railway cars are. Now that we are at a significant historical distance from the events of the Holocaust, it is fitting not only that a key Holocaust artifact plays such an iconic role in memorialization and representation, but also that the artifact itself has become the object of imaginative replication and aesthetic interpretation. Different trains indeed.


Thresholds of Initiation “Arbeit Macht Frei”

Holocaust icons exist in a range of forms. Although artifacts like the railway cars examined in chapter 1 are some of the most concrete icons of memory, there are other cases in which objects may represent the Holocaust through a combination of physical and more abstract modes of signification, such as linguistic form. The paradigmatic example of this sort of hybrid symbolization is the phrase “Arbeit macht frei,” well known and widely used during and after the Nazi era. In this chapter, I examine the role of this phrase during World War II and its legacy afterward. Whereas the previous chapter examined railway cars as key symbols used to illustrate the deportation phase of the so-­called Final Solution, this chapter considers the symbolization of arrival at and/or initiation into concentration and death camps—­and, potentially, the iconization of the entire camp system and its logic. The infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate at Auschwitz (and elsewhere in the concentration and death camp network) has served an emblematic function within Holocaust memorial culture for some time. Survivors and memory-­tourists alike have seen it as central to their wartime or postwar Holocaust experiences, and for many it symbolizes the Shoah in its entirety. 68

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This is due not only to its physical position as a threshold or crossing-­point into or out of that experience, but also because of the chilling slogan that appears above the gateway, an “inscription,” according to Sidra Ezrahi, “seared into the Jewish soul like the numbers on Jewish flesh.”1 A number of commentators have noted that “Arbeit macht frei” serves as the Jewish version of Dante’s “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here,” marking as it does the symbolic (if not actual) entranceway into the hell of the Jewish concentration or death camp experience. For many, this inscription summarizes the perverted logic of Nazism’s assault on European Jewry. Yet, as Debórah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt have shown, the gate held no significant place in the history of Auschwitz: “It played no role in the Judeocide. Indeed, very few of the Jews deported to Auschwitz ever saw that gate.”2 Although there are a number of reasons why the Auschwitz gate remains significant in the world of postwar Holocaust representation—­ most notably because of its link to the Auschwitz camp network which, as Jonathan Huener has shown, exists in metonymic relationship to the Holocaust3—­this tension between the historical and memorial/symbolic roles of the gateway needs to be examined. This chapter considers the symbolic role of this phrase, and the gateways where it was inscribed, as they are positioned literally and metaphorically at the real or imagined threshold of Holocaust incarceration. In juxtaposing the historical evidence for the insignificance of the phrase and gateway relative to their continual importance in the memorial sphere, I point to the fraught relationship between history and memory, or, put simplistically, the meaning of the past in the present versus the meaning of the past for the present. My project here is, first, to historicize the Nazi slogan and its multiple performances at several camps during the Holocaust and, second, to examine the post-­Holocaust uses of the phrase, especially its iconic Auschwitz version, as a symbol of the Holocaust and of its iconic memorialization. Thus my approach in this chapter differs from my strategy in chapter 1; there, I outlined a symbolic-­memorial typology drawn from varying strategies for displaying Holocaust-­era railway cars, concentrating thereby on different ways of thinking about the Holocaust and accessing its narratives after World War  II, to asses that artifact’s ultimate iconicity; here, I focus on various ways of rendering the phrase “Arbeit macht frei” both during the Holocaust and after, to assess its overall effect as a Holocaust symbol and to propose that it too is iconic. Along the way, by focusing on this one phrase, I wish to subvert the

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all-­too-­easy distinction between historical and memorial representations of the Holocaust and show how both are, indeed, forms of representation with differing agendas. I also hope that the exploration of the symbolism of the threshold itself may challenge the binary opposition often posited between Holocaust-­perpetrator history and Holocaust-­victim memory. This discussion is not intended to be exhaustive but rather aims to provide a framework for continuing the analysis of key icons of the Holocaust whose unique contributions to Holocaust consciousness arise from their hypersymbolic nature.

Origins “Arbeit macht frei” appeared at the gates of a number of camps, including Dachau, Flossenburg, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Theresienstadt, and of course Auschwitz.4 Archival photos confirm the appearance of the phrase at several camp entrances. At Flossenburg, believed to be the first appearance of the phrase at a camp gate, it appears on a smallish, unassuming sign on the left side, though the reader should note that the photograph reproduced here (see fig. 15), from May 1945, post-­dates liberation and thereby sits on the threshold between wartime and postwar representations, raising a not inconsequential issue of our accessibility or lack thereof to its wartime meaning. At Theresienstadt (see fig. 16), the phrase is painted over an arched entranceway to the Gestapo prison known as the “Small Fortress.” At Sachsenhausen, “Arbeit macht frei” is incorporated into the metalwork of the iron gate of the camp, in stylized Art Deco lettering that raises the question as to why such a sign should be so stylized in the first place. Due to the range of forms of incarceration and administration at these locations, we cannot assume the phrase had a completely consistent meaning across all the camps at which it appeared. The Nazi use of the phrase has been attributed to Theodor Eicke, former commandant of Dachau, founder and trainer of the Death’s Head Brigade, and inspector of concentration camps.5 His slogan, in its entirety, read, “Jedem das Seine. Arbeit Macht Frei. (To Each What He Deserves. Work Makes Free).” The first portion, “Jedem das Seine,” itself a phrase with a long philosophical and political history, also appeared at the entrance to the Buchenwald camp; the “Work Makes Free” portion was used more widely.6 But Wolfgang Brückner, a Germanist and folklorist, notes that the phrase first appeared

FIGURE 15.   Flossenburg, Germany, May 3, 1945: German civilians lead an oxcart bearing

prisoners’ corpses to burial outside the camp gate, labeled with the phrase “Arbeit macht frei.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD.

FIGURE 16.   Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia, Gestapo prison called the “Small Fortress,” 1939.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Jacob Igra.

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as the title of Lorenz Diefenbach’s little-­recognized 1873 novel, Arbeit macht frei: Erzählung von Lorenz Diefenbach, whose main gambler characters discover the path to virtue through hard labor.7

Proverbial Work Much of the symbolism of the phrase derives, of course, from its linguistic character. It is, first and foremost, a linguistic signifier, and only secondarily a visual and architectural one, which is clarified when one observes the variety of visual renderings of the slogan. One of the most famous examples of Nazi-­Deutsch, it stands among many cases of what Henry Friedlander has called Nazi public language, the language of propaganda, in opposition to the more hidden, bureaucratic language of Nazi technicians: “While the language of the technicians remained hidden from public view until the postwar years, the language of the propagandists stood for all Nazi language during the twelve years of the Third Reich. Hitler pronounced it, Goebbels refined it, and every Nazi functionary copied it. This public language—­used to guide the followers, convince the subjects, and intimidate the opponents—­ eventually penetrated all aspects of public and private life.”8 Emotional, organic, jingoistic, symbolic, at times bitterly ironic, the public language of Nazism translated ideology into pithy slogans that, if repeated often enough, converted falsehood into truth. In this context, “Arbeit macht frei” is a catch-­phrase for Nazi linguistic duplicity, a sucker punch to the unaware and wishful victim delivered by a perpetrator committed not only to the literal, or at least metaphoric and ironic, meaning of the slogan itself, but also, and especially, to the ideology that produced it. In this sense, Wolfgang Mieder has persuasively argued that the phrase is best understood as a kind of proverb or proverbial statement, one of those deceptively simple sentences that convey folk wisdom in memorable form.9 In this light, “Arbeit macht frei” emerges in the broader context of Nazi ideas concerning work, themselves emerging from a longer German tradition, at least as far back as the Enlightenment, of the redemptive value and necessity of work. Indeed, Brückner suggests that the phrase (or phrases like it) has an extensive history in philosophy, literature, and political theory dating back to medieval times. In the 1800s, he argues, the bourgeois concept of physical labor as a duty for all took hold, leading directly to what he considers its pre-­Nazi völkische perversion, in which work became

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a cultural term, exceeding its economic meaning and becoming integral to the Volksgeist, or national spirit.10 In the Weimar era, a dichotomy was established that distinguished Jews and Germans when it came to the issue of work, as Alf Lüdtke argues: “in the 1920s the immigration of East European Jews gave some ideologues the opportunity to cast a stereotyped ‘Jew’ as the counter-­figure of the hard-­ working German, the latter predominantly depicted as a masculine hero. It was a stereotype that the Nazis did not produce but instrumentalized after 1933.”11 One aspect of this instrumentalization is apparent in the characterization of Hitler himself, as the historian Claudia Koonz describes: Within hours of his appointment as chancellor, two announcers, speaking to an estimated 20 million listeners, described the torchlight parade in Berlin and hailed the hardworking new Führer. Speaking in the breathless cadences of sportscasters, they reported, “Cheers continue to well up. Adolf Hitler stands at the window. His face is serious. He was torn away from his work. There is no trace of a victory mood in his face. He was interrupted. And yet his eyes shine over the awakening Germany, over this sea of people from all walks of life . . . workers of the mind and fist . . . I hope that our listeners receive just an idea, an inkling, of this great spectacle.”12

This instrumentalization was more completely crystallized in Hitler’s famous speech on May 1, 1933 (Labor Day), when work itself, according to Werner Hamacher, was elevated to the status of “Christological self-­redemption, self-­erection (Selbsterhebung), and the resurrection from the death of the Weimar Republic. It is the self-­appropriation of the people in its self-­production. Work is the mythical form of liberation, self-­deification. The National Socialism that Hitler conjured up is a political mytho-­theology of work.”13 The ideal of work constitutes the essence of Nazism, and Hitler’s vision of work goes far beyond a common notion of productive labor to embody a “‘creating in harmony with the interests of the people,’” precisely the kind of self-­sacrificing work Jews are accused of lacking: the Jew “gives nothing back and fails to receive himself in return—­but, since he lacks every ethnic, and thus ethic, ‘ties’ [Bindung], his egotistical work is uncreative and robbery.”14 In the early Nazi view then, “work” was already being defined as an Aryan enterprise, and Jewish productivity and social contributions were downplayed, thus helping to set the stage for the increasing delegitimation of Jewish existence, leading eventually to the death camps.

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From 1934 to 1945, Lüdtke argues, “the focus on ‘German work’ allowed more active participation in excluding ‘alien others,’ Jews but also Gypsies, Poles, Russians, and homosexuals. Accordingly, only those who worked properly deserved human treatment. Above all, to fulfill the German work ideal demanded also doing the ‘job’ of warfaring, or, killing in the death camps (and elsewhere) ‘properly.’”15 Ironically, such German work as war production was increasingly performed after 1942 by prisoners of war, even if those prisoners were considered subhuman and destined to be worked to death.16 In general, as analyzed by Lüdtke elsewhere, Nazism appropriated the ideal, dating at least as far back as the Weimar Republic, of the “honor of labor,” and convincingly persuaded a range of ordinary German workers to adopt this ideal and, in the process, support Nazism,17 even as Nazism’s own work was of a more sinister sort. The Nazis, then, capitalized on an established ideologization of labor; Hitler promoted the notion that anyone not working with head or hands (i.e., with capital) should be considered not working (nicht-­arbeitend), reinforcing the antisemitic stereotype.18 And Mieder notes that the Nazi philologist Karl Bergmann used traditional proverbs in a range of categories, including “work,” deliberately to promote racist policies. For example, in a 1936 paper, “Under ‘Arbeit’ (‘work’), one finds  .  .  . ‘Arbeit schändet nicht’ (‘work does no harm’), an old German proverb that encourages solid work ethics” but presumably is used here to embody a specifically Nazi ideal.19 Brückner encapsulates his interpretation of the Nazi understanding of labor: those who for reasons of their race are not born for labor do not deserve to live, and only a working human being is a free human being.20 In this understanding, then, “Arbeit macht frei” would not have applied to Jews, except, perhaps, to those Jews whose labors were considered valuable to the Nazi state, or to those incarcerated during the first five years of the Reich as political prisoners. For the rest, as the authors of the Dictionary of the Holocaust summarize: “Interned Jews had indeterminate sentences and were not slated to be freed. The slogan was a tragic hoax.”21 Richard Wires, in his Terminology of the Third Reich, elaborates, reviewing the entire period of Nazi rule: “Its purpose was partly to lull arriving prisoners into a false security until their escape or resistance became impossible and partly to bolster the official picture of the camps as temporary detention centers. In the early years of the regime a few of those arrested were eventually released but for the overwhelming millions sent to the camps no amount of work ever earned freedom.”22 And Peter Hellman, in an

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edition of the found-­photographs collection The Auschwitz Album, notes that, “Though Jews with useful skills did come to be incarcerated here [at Auschwitz I], along with non-­Jews of many nationalities, they were always in the minority. In any case, the inscription wrought in iron over the main gate, ‘Work Shall Make You Free,’ was never meant to apply to the Jews—­ though they had little to hope for except that it might be so.”23 The “Arbeit macht frei” hoax is therefore actually a double one: according to Nazi ideology, Jews were not classified as people who could work, and they were also not eligible to earn freedom through work.24 Writing specifically about the slogan’s appearance at Auschwitz, but clearly acknowledging the phrase’s broader contexts in Nazi ideology (especially as this occurs in a section analyzing Hitler’s 1933 speech), Hamacher summarizes the “mythological” import of “Arbeit macht frei,” which I quote at length, as the truthful motto, the very name, of Auschwitz: In this sentence, we are to understand that work as the form of the self-­ appropriation of the “being and life” of a people is simultaneously the form of its liberation from everything that is not itself, that is not proper to it—­that is improper, foreign, and, at the same time, according to a troglodytically bipolar thinking, inferior, debased, unfree, and dead. The sentence “Work makes free” is the resurrection formula of the national-­Christian, necro-­vitalistic mythology of fascism. It defines Auschwitz as workplace: a workplace where the nonproper, the nonworking—­and, it is thus insinuated, the already dead—­ are once more put to death, in order that the proper, the society of work, can emerge as the product of its own labor. It defines murder as the work of life on itself. It defines Jews as the unredeemed; it defines Communists as the dualists of class conflict; it defines Gypsies as the homeless and propertyless; it defines homosexuals as the un(re)productive: it defines them all as material for work, as work materials—­namely, as the always already former, as the dead, unproductive people—­and it defines work, on the one hand, as the production of corpses, and, on the other, as the production of the “gleaming,” spectral body of the work-­state. “Work makes free” is not an arbitrary or cynical slogan. It is rather the name of Auschwitz and thus the name of National Socialist Germany. It does not deceive about the reality of work but, rather, pronounces its truth: the system of liberation through work and, consequently, the system of self-­production—­the production of the figure of the self—­is the system of Auschwitz. Yet the unreality that cleaves to this slogan, as well as to the reality of the work it defines, and that seduces one to understand it as mere cynicism

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does not lack objectivity. For this work deemed to make free consists essentially in the rejection of a structurally irreducible moment of work itself, in the rejection of what in work exposes it to something foreign, to something that does not define itself as work, that is inappropriable and that does not permit of being included within the defining borders of a univocal concept, a form or an idea. Work, as it determines the system of Auschwitz, the system of National Socialism, defines itself as the rejection of what is foreign to work and the foreignness of work “itself ” through murder: the practical condemnation and extermination of what in work does not correspond to an egological figure and thus does not conform to the process of figuration, of what in work is not itself and what does not come back to itself.25

Nazi work therefore liberates those it includes in its compass from those it excludes, its others, by murdering those others. Even more than a symbol, “Arbeit macht frei,” in Hamacher’s trenchant analysis, becomes a theological statement and, it should be emphasized, the proper name of the site with which it is most associated: its sign, as it were. Ironically, “Arbeit macht frei,” visible on a range of gateways within the concentration and death camp network, becomes the universal sign for those camps, for the “work” they produce, and for the byproduct of that labor: mass death. As Wolfgang Brückner concludes, “From the modern myth of a work ethos that was considered specifically German arose the extermination strategy of the genocide.”26 Or, as Otto Friedrich writes about Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolf Höss, “He seems not to have intended [the slogan] as a mockery, nor even to have intended it literally, as a false promise that those who worked to exhaustion would eventually be released, but rather as a kind of mystical declaration that self-­sacrifice in the form of endless labour does in itself bring a kind of spiritual freedom.”27 That is no comfort, of course, for those Jews murdered under the system symbolized by this sign.

The Dachau Lied An early response to, and appropriation of, the iconic phrase originates at Dachau. “Playwright Jura Soyfer and composer Herbert Zipper, active in Viennese antifascist cabaret”28 prior to their arrest by the Gestapo following the Anschluss, met again as inmates there. Daily, they transported

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cement sacks through the camp gate marked with the infamous slogan (see fig. 17). They respectively wrote and composed the “Dachau Lied: ‘Arbeit Macht Frei,’” in September 1938. An unsigned note to the score claims that, “To Soyfer and Zipper these words at this place aroused bitter scorn, but at the same time inspired them to give these words a very different meaning by creating a song of resistance. . . . Before the two friends became transferred to Buchenwald at the end of September, Zipper taught three musicians . . . text and music of the song as legacy for the Dachau mater. Through the oral tradition the song became known not only in Dachau but also in other concentration-­camps and beyond German’s borders in foreign countries. The song led its own life.”29 But an understanding of the song’s message depends on how it is interpreted: to read the transformation of the “Arbeit macht frei” phrase into one of resistance depends on reading it ironically,

FIGURE 17.   Dachau, Germany, concentration camp gate, April–­August 1945. United States

Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Norman Coulson.

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not literally; the song certainly expresses hope for a future after incarceration and communicates a sense of endurance and brotherhood, but it could be seen as endorsing the German tradition of purifying work out of which the original slogan emerged, if read literally. The refrain, for example, goes Doch wir haben die Losung von Dachau gelernt, und wir wurden stahlhart dabei: Bleib ein Mensch, Kamerad, sei ein Mann, Kamerad, mach’ ganze Arbeit, pack’ an, Kamerad, den Arbeit, den Arbeit macht frei! [But we all learned the motto of Dachau to heed And became as hardened as stone. Stay humane, Dachau mate, Be a man, Dachau mate, And work as hard as you can, Dachau mate, For work leads to freedom alone!]

while the last two lines of the final verse read Und die Arbeit, die wir machen, diese Arbeit, die wird gut. [And the work we are designing Our work it will be good.]30

It is also critical to emphasize that the “Dachau Lied,” written in 1938, originates in the era of “paper violence,” on the eve of but not yet disrupted by Kristallnacht, the November 9–­­10, 1938, pogrom that marked the end of the first phase of a Nazi antisemitism that, while still violent, was less organized in its physical abuses and more focused on legalized delegitimation and emigration of Jews. The early use of the slogan, as at Dachau and most of the other sites where it was posted, predates the onslaught of Nazi eliminationist policies and actions against the Jews. It is therefore likely that, in its earliest application, the phrase “Arbeit macht frei” may indeed have still retained a literal meaning, that is, that work, performed by anyone incarcerated in a concentration camp, might lead to freedom; the deeper and

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ultimately murderous irony of Jews experiencing the sign in a later, Polish setting in which their work could not lead to freedom except “through the chimney” was yet to come. In this sense, the phrase’s later symbolic connotation had not yet been established.

Auschwitz The most famous of the “Arbeit macht frei” gates, at Auschwitz I (see fig. 18), was reportedly built by Polish political prisoners who had been deported from Wisnicz in late 1940 or early 1941, members of a metalworking labor detail led by Jan Liwacz.31 Although we have seen that the slogan has an extensive prehistory and wartime legacy, it is this version that registers most powerfully as a hybrid symbol, and ultimately an icon, of the Holocaust, largely due to its frequent reproduction. Dwork and van Pelt note that, “For the post-­Auschwitz generation, [this] gate symbolizes the threshold that separates the human community from the Planet Auschwitz. It is a fixed point in our collective memory, and therefore [they add] the canonical beginning of the tour through the camp.”32 But, as has been observed already, the gate and its slogan did not actually play any role for the majority of Jews murdered at the vast Auschwitz complex, who never saw it. It also did not play as critical a role marking the entrance to the Auschwitz I camp: while it did stand as the main gate to the living area of the camp in 1940 and 1941, from 1942 on it became an internal threshold, marking only the dividing line between the older camp and its newer extension.33 The real historical threshold for the Auschwitz inmate experience during this latter period—­the camp’s “reception” center—­was the same building that serves as the camp’s present-­day reception center for visitors, an ironic detail that, as Dwork and van Pelt point out, remains unmarked; they note as well that the parts of the main camp that later constituted the Auschwitz Museum were themselves dictated by the placement of the gateway.34 So, despite the functional shift of the “Arbeit macht frei” gate after 1942, it remains the first prominent exhibition label, so to speak, at Auschwitz I, as read in the latter part of its wartime as well as in its present-­day memorial-­museological context. One way the “centrality” and symbolic importance of the Auschwitz I gate have been literally dramatized is in Soviet film footage of the camp’s “liberation.” The Liberation of Auschwitz 1945 includes footage shot by

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FIGURE 18.   “Arbeit macht frei” gate at Auschwitz I, May 11–­­25, 1945. Photo by Stanisław

Łuczko, courtesy of Auschwitz-­Birkenau State Museum Archives and US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Alexander Woronzow, purportedly in January and February 1945 at the time of the liberation of the camp by the Soviet army and shortly thereafter. This 1985 documentary includes reflections by Woronzow on the liberation and his role in filming it as a captain in the Soviet army instructed to do so by his superiors. According to the film, Woronzow’s footage remained in storage in canisters for forty years. It is not clear why the footage was not screened, but the voice-­over narration corresponding to the film’s images of the infamous gateway suggests one possibility: “The Soviet Union first informed the world of its findings at Auschwitz on May 7th, 1945, through a statement by the Soviet agency Tass. The Soviet camera team had wanted to stage a film of triumphant liberation to present to the world. When former prisoners were strong enough, many volunteered to act as extras, but the film was never shown, Woronzow said, because it in no way corresponded to the bleak reality of January 27th [the day the Soviets first arrived at Auschwitz].”35 This narrative is heard over repeated images, clearly filmed later, perhaps sometime in the spring (the liberation footage shows a gray, snowy landscape, while here we see what appears to be a clear, sunny day), in which

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“prisoners” wave their hats, crowded behind the “locked” “Arbeit macht frei” gate (see fig. 19), as Soviet soldiers first lift the barrier and then, after one “breaks” the lock with the butt of his rifle, open the gate to a rush of “liberated inmates” (see fig. 20). In a sense, then, the symbolic function and memorial role of the Auschwitz gateway began already, as this staged footage shows, in 1945, dramatizing its purported position as the threshold to liberation. It is as if the symbolism of the labeled gateway within the framework of liberation simply overwhelmed any impulse toward more accurate representation.36 The symbolic primacy of the Auschwitz gate-­image persists in a manner that actually perpetuates a deception or at least a misreading. The truth is that the defining characteristic and central experience of the Holocaust—­outright mass murder, with no detour, however harsh and temporary, through incarceration and labor—­is not symbolized by “Arbeit macht frei” here or anywhere the sign was posted. Those who came in contact with the slogan most typically did so in a concentration or labor camp setting, not at a so-­called extermination camp. Investing the slogan with a symbolic meaning representative of the Holocaust experience as a whole distorts the picture of Jewish incarceration in the camps and actually buys into the Nazis’ understanding of the phrase: that “work” might indeed lead to “freedom,” that there was a certain logic, however perverted, to the Nazi system, that it might have been possible to avoid being murdered if one could only work hard enough. Linking the slogan to mass death only further highlights the extremely cynical relationship between Nazi policies and Nazi language. Finally, seeing the gateway as marking a point of initiation and arrival at “planet Auschwitz” artificially and erroneously establishes a sharp dividing line between inside and outside, incarceration and freedom, masking the more fuzzy and muddled process of initiation that occurred over time and ended, for many, before they even realized they were being “initiated.” As a symbol of the Nazi “work ethic” and as a representative of the entire concept of the concentrationary universe, “Arbeit macht frei” is all too apt, but as a symbol of initiation into the particularly Jewish experience of the Holocaust it is a multilevel lie. The tendency to resort to “Arbeit macht frei” as a sign for the Holocaust camp experience is part and parcel of a larger tendency to gloss over or ignore the key differences between different types of camps and different types of Jewish incarceration. Curiously, it is exactly this kind of imprecision and generalization that contribute to the

FIGURE 19.   Still photo from Soviet film The Liberation of Auschwitz 1945. United States

Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Central Ukrainian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography.

FIGURE 20.   Still photo from Soviet film The Liberation of Auschwitz 1945. United States

Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Belarusian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography.

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iconic nature of “Arbeit macht frei,” allowing it to apply to and therefore symbolize the camp experience in general without regard for its specific or logical applicability.

Art after Auschwitz After World War  II, the “Arbeit macht frei” slogan found its way into a number of artistic representations, which worked in different ways to expand the cultural impact of the phrase and, overall, contributed to its iconic nature. In the first notable case of its postwar afterlife, however, its appearance is mystifying, with only the proverb itself experiencing a reincarnation. Frank Stella’s painting Arbeit Macht Frei (1958, seen here in a 1967 lithograph) is one of the first in a series of so-­called “Black Paintings” executed in the late 1950s whose aim was to take modernist abstraction to its limit in visually erasing art’s past—­its own history—­and focusing the viewer’s eye on the purely formal qualities of the painting. Large in scale—­ about seven by ten feet—­Stella’s Black Paintings were meant to make direct and immediate “imprints” on the viewer. “He covered the surface of the canvas with a regular pattern of stripes and, in doing so, attempted to

FIGURE 21.   Frank Stella, Arbeit Macht Frei (1967), lithograph, 15 x 22 in., © 2014 Frank

Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Art Resource, NY.

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expel the remnants of illusionism in the pictorial space. . . . The goal of the artwork was an objective factuality from which all traces of the subjective were supposed to be obliterated.”37 In many ways Stella’s Arbeit Macht Frei is an anti-­symbolic work, refusing any direct visual reference to the slogan it borrows as its title, accentuating its meaning by decontextualizing it and, to a certain extent, denying its own history, leaving only the phrase itself in its wake. Nonetheless, especially in the context of two other works in the series, Die Fahne Hoch! “The Flag on High” (the first line and alternative title for the “Horst-­Wessel-­Lied,” the Nazi party anthem) and Reichstag (the German parliament), and in its cruciform pattern, faintly echoing the Nazi Hakenkreuz or swastika, one cannot deny the presence of a degree of visual and historical allusion in the painting. This tension between the title of the work and its form may have a lot to do with the painting’s historical context, which predates the Holocaust’s full arrival in American culture, as the art historian Lisa Saltzman points out: Stella conjured up, through the sheer allusive power of the word, a history that was only just entering the domain of postwar American cultural representation. Painted before the intense media attention to the Auschwitz trials of the 1960s, Stella’s black paintings closed out a decade in America that knew the Holocaust most immediately and affectingly through such cultural markers as the English translation of the Diary of Anne Frank (1952) and its subsequent stage production in 1955. Painted before a postwar American public had grown increasingly desensitized to representations of history and its atrocities, titled before a postwar American public had grown increasingly inured to the cultural treatment of such taboo subjects, historical or otherwise, Stella’s black paintings exploited history for its shock value, its novelty, its “grisly chic.”38

In this way, Stella’s Arbeit Macht Frei marks a pivot point in the cultural appropriation of Nazi icons, borrowing the phrase “Abeit macht frei” but taking almost nothing else from its history, inserting the slogan into postwar cultural discourse without any interpretive scaffolding that might explicate its use. And perhaps that is the artist’s point; in a way, Stella capitalizes here on the irony of the phrase during the Holocaust when applied to Jews, for whom its literal meaning was inapplicable, displaying its irrelevance to Jewish wartime experience. For Americans in the late 1950s, the slogan also had little relevance, though it must have signified “Germany” and possibly “Nazis” to them, making the slogan into an empty symbol. As

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for the work itself, executed well before the contemporary era of memorial minimalism (the best example of which is Maya Lin’s Vietnam War Memorial), we might also read Stella’s extreme abstraction as a key precursor to present memorial trends.39 After all, as the literary scholar Samuel Hynes reminds us, in a New York Times op-­ed essay, “War memorials . . . are designed to . . . make the cost of war bearable, by abstracting it.”40 Stella’s painting is not a war memorial per se, but it does record the resonance of the infamous phrase at a particular moment, when its fuller impact had not been felt, as a kind of historical-­cultural snapshot. But most postwar representations of “Arbeit macht frei” stick more closely to its visual iconic Auschwitz referent. The Auschwitz version is represented strikingly in Art Spiegelman’s Maus, in which it marks the climax of the first volume, published in 1986, depicting Art’s parents Vladek and Anja’s arrival at Auschwitz (or Mauschwitz, as the subtitle to the second volume names the camp), following their literal unmasking, capture, and deportation. “We came to the town of Oswiecim  .  .  . Before the war I sold textiles here,” read the captions just above the panel depicted here (see fig. 22), in Vladek’s testimonial voice, “And we came here to the concentration camp Auschwitz. And we knew that from here we will not come out anymore . . . We knew the stories—­that they will gas us and throw us in the ovens. This was 1944 . . . we knew everything. And here we were.”41 This version of “Arbeit macht frei,” erroneously marking the entranceway to the death camp (and symbolically marking the threshold between life and anticipated death), is distinctive for at least three reasons, aside from the oft-­cited innovative motifs of “commix” representation created by Spiegelman. First, it is notable that Spiegelman, in Vladek’s voice, describes the arrival at the camp gate as fully informed by knowledge of what this arrival means: “This was 1944 . . . we knew everything,” contravening the more typical narrative of arrival at the camp, usually couched in an image of ignorance of what fate awaits new arrivals. Second, visually, the depiction of the gateway is distinctive because it is the only image in the entire volume that bleeds off the page, as it were, highlighting its importance in the volume. In fact, Spiegelman himself has noted, in his introduction to the CD-­ROM edition of Maus, “This is the largest panel in the book, too big to be contained by the book—­the entrance into Auschwitz.”42 And third, as Marianne Hirsch points out, the gateway’s “emblematic status has made [it] into a screen memory,” citing as an

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FIGURE 22.   Arrival at Auschwitz I. An excerpt from The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale ©

1986, 1991 by Art Spiegelman. Used with permission.

example Spiegelman’s drawing his parents’ arrival and departure through this gate, “which could not have been true in 1944–­45 when the gate was no longer used in this way. For Spiegelman, as for all of us in this generation, the gate is the visual image we share of the arrival in the camp. The artist needs it not only to make the narrative immediate and ‘authentic’: he needs it as a point of access (a gate) for himself and for his postmemorial readers.”43 I will return to the idea of the Auschwitz threshold as screen memory below; what I want to emphasize here is the gate’s role as a shared, iconic access point to the Holocaust, and its position as a marker of a certain kind of memorial (though not necessarily historical) authenticity—­the Auschwitz version of the slogan marking a gateway is iconic in part because it can be easily envisioned and reproduced as a portal into that universe. Finally, I also want to suggest that the gateway, as it is depicted in Maus, marks the threshold between first generation Holocaust testimony and so-­called second generation Holocaust imagination.

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Spiegelman’s version of the iconic gateway performs a dual function: it anchors a familial and memorial narrative, and it also stands as a visual artistic representation. While perhaps overemphasizing the emblematic and initiatory functions of the gateway, it strives nevertheless to preserve some of its essential wartime visual context, something absent from Stella’s abstract minimalist version. Other uses of “Arbeit macht frei,” however, depart from Spiegelman’s more conservative, if still problematic, symbolic application by extending the use of the icon into other visual contexts. One example is part of Judy Chicago’s often criticized Holocaust Project, in the approximately five-­and-­a-­half-­foot high by twelve-­foot wide canvas, metal, and wood installation Arbeit Macht Frei/Work Makes Who Free? (1992). Here Chicago continues the central theme of the work as a whole: the juxtaposition of Holocaust imagery with images derived from other examples of mistreatment, prejudice, atrocity, and genocide. In this case the comparison is with 19th-­century American slavery, in a split pyramid showing, on the left, a large photo of plantation slavery below a painting of a southern cotillion and, on the right, a parallel photo of prisoners working in a Mauthausen quarry under a painting of tourists eating pastries in a Viennese coffeehouse (see fig. 23b). Filling out the central rectangular space are parallel “ghost” images of a 1960s KKK rally and a 1930s Nazi rally; all this appears under the transformed iconic sign, flanked by period columns. On the other side of each column there are smaller paintings offering further illustration of the American and Holocaust era slave-­labor cases (see fig. 23a).44 The sign itself is changed to accommodate not only the original slogan but also a rendering into English that transforms the phrase into a rhetorical question, the question mark appearing in the center for aesthetic purposes and to reinforce the interrogative thrust of the piece. If in Stella’s work the phrase is virtually emptied of referentiality, while in Spiegelman’s it is the highlight of a biographical narrative meant to underscore the significance of the slogan for Jews at Auschwitz and after—­to the point that it dramatizes a chronological impossibility—­here the slogan is overdetermined by its juxtaposition to American slavery. Whatever one might think of the liberal-­political appropriation of Holocaust imagery for comparative purposes, or simply of the quality of Chicago’s art in this work, one should recognize that behind the use the artist makes of “Arbeit macht frei” lies an interrogation of the historical meaning of the phrase itself. In this case, Chicago follows a more literalist understanding of the slogan and its declared causal relationship between work and freedom, focusing

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FIGURE 23A.   Judy Chicago, Arbeit Macht Frei/Work Makes Who Free? from the Holocaust Project (1992), sprayed acrylic, oil, metal, wood, and photography on photolinen and canvas, 67 x 143 in. Photo © Donald Woodman. © 2014 Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo courtesy of Judy Chicago/Art Resource, NY.

FIGURE 23B.  Detail, Arbeit Macht Frei/Work Makes Who Free?

on its symbolic reference to slave labor and thereby probing Nazi irony, thus dramatizing the impossibility of that causal relationship in both cases presented for the viewer’s comparison. Challenging the presumed uniqueness of the Holocaust, Chicago simultaneously chooses not to subscribe

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to a broader symbolic meaning of the slogan and sign representative of the Holocaust as a whole. As a final reference to the visual artistic afterlife of this Holocaust symbol, I will briefly discuss an ephemeral work by the artist Horst Hoheisel, who used the image of the iconic Auschwitz sign for an actual projection onto Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. The projection grew out of his 1995 proposal for the competition for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in which he had audaciously suggested that the iconic Brandenburg Gate, the eighteenth-­century monumental archway to Prussian military might built by Prussian King Frederick William II, be demolished, ground up, and spread over the vast territory dedicated to the memorial a few blocks away.45 Although this was not the winning entry in the competition (and it is likely Hoheisel never so intended), it spawned the projection performance, The Gateways of the Germans (Memorial for One Night), which occurred on the first anniversary of the “Tag des Gedenkens an die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus” (“Day of Remembrance of the Victims of National Socialism”) proclaimed by German president Roman Herzog on January 3, 1996, and established on January 27, the anniversary of the day the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz.46 If the artist’s idea was to comingle the two iconic gateways, thereby interrogating German military and political history and memory and drawing a direct connection from the Brandenburg Gate to “Arbeit macht frei,” the effect was also psychological, bringing “Arbeit macht frei” home, as it were: January 27 is close to January 30, the anniversary of Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, on which date thousands marched with torchlights through the Brandenburg Gate to celebrate his appointment as chancellor. Projecting “Arbeit macht frei” onto the Brandenburg Gate in this way, making the latter a physical screen for the former, allows both icons to be visible at the same time, thereby denying “Arbeit macht frei” its function as a screen memory that would otherwise mask the national traumas that preceded and followed it, from eighteenth-­century Prussian militarism, through Nazi rule, and up to and including the erection and fall of the Berlin Wall (just to the west of the gate). Especially considering that the Brandenburg Gate is a German national symbol, and that both sides of it had been used historically for political performances (including those of American presidents), the palimpsest effect of this artistic projection encouraged a layered, composite image of ideas of work, power, sacrifice, and freedom.47

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From Space to Place and Back Again: Visiting “Arbeit macht frei” The US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which opened in 1993, seized on the symbolic import of the Auschwitz version of the “Arbeit macht frei” gate in planning its permanent exhibition. Obtaining a casting of the original (since there was no way the original could be moved to Washington) was a high priority for the team that had been scouring Poland for some time in search of appropriate large and small artifacts to help tell the story of the Holocaust at America’s central institution devoted to its history and memory. An initial agreement was reached on March 1, 1989, between Kazimierz Smolen, director of the Auschwitz Museum, and Michael Berenbaum, project director of the USHMM. This was in line with the wishes of the USHMM’s Content Team, expressed in their Exhibition Story Outline dated May  11, 1988, that the basic elements of the museum’s proposed storyline would choose “from the myriad of important and informative events, those moments and experiences that are both historical and symbolic.” They further elaborate how, in displaying the concentrationary universe, “This climactic exhibition area on the Third Floor will interpret the hellish world of concentration camps, slave labor camps and killing centers. In a reprise of the opening exhibit area, visitors will walk through a symbolic gate (‘Arbeit Macht Frei’) into the world of Auschwitz, symbolic of all camps.”48 Although the idea that the display would be a “reprise of the opening exhibit area” appears to have evolved with the design of the museum, the presentation of the gate replica matched the preliminary plans: visitors must walk under it as they move from the scene of deportation (in the display of the railway car) to the presentation of the camps, the archway flanked by cases containing victims’ belongings. The effect is powerful, and serves to further initiate the visitor into this alternative universe, transforming the space of the USHMM into the place of “Arbeit macht frei” at Auschwitz. Here the symbolism of the gateway is intensified by its replication, which makes it possible for museum visitors to act out an imagined entrance into the camps, contributing to the visitors’ sense of identification with Jews and others during the Holocaust. This performance, or, as is more common and symbolically significant, its reversal—­as an imagined exit from the camp—­is also enacted in visits to the present-­day camp memorials, most notably in ritualized

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FIGURE 24.   Casting of the Auschwitz I gate, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,

permanent exhibit, third floor, 1993–­1995. Photo courtesy of US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

pilgrimages like the March of the Living’s annual visit to Auschwitz. Significantly, March of the Living participants find it important to photograph themselves at the infamous gateway, as I have observed in my own previous research and as attested to by Janina Struk: “The now famous gate to the Auschwitz camp has become a bottle-­neck as crowds pause to photograph or video each other under the sign ‘ARBEIT MACHT FREI.’ Everyone wants to be pictured here. Not to be photographed under these gates would be like leaving Pisa without having been photographed with the leaning tower; it’s a kind of establishing shot, a way of making sure friends and family back home know that you were really there.”49 Nowadays, with the advent of backward-­facing camera phones, visitors photograph themselves in “selfies,” using the iconic gateway as a dramatic, if tasteless, backdrop.50 If a visitor to Auschwitz does not have a camera, she can still commemorate her experience with a black-­framed postcard purchased at the camp-­museum, depicting the open gateway in springtime, labeled “Auschwitz-­Birkenau” in Gothic letters, reinforcing Dan Stone’s view

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that “ever since the first photos of Auschwitz, the meaning imputed to it has been encompassed in the symbolic framework of the barbed wire, the ramp, or the famous entrance gate. These things were of course important parts of the camp, yet they are not the camp but only how we wish to keep seeing it.”51 In this way, the specific place defined by “Arbeit macht frei” is further transformed into a commemorative space marked by triumphal tourists exiting the gateway as free people rather than entering as slaves (reminiscent of the staged liberation of Auschwitz photographed by the Soviets), symbolically inverting the assumed role of the gateway and perhaps even noting and describing the experience in a souvenir sent across the globe to loved ones at home: “Greetings from Auschwitz! Wish you were here.” In what might be a sign of today’s increasingly interconnected society, where replicas and representations proliferate, the Farmington Hills, Michigan, Holocaust Memorial Center, on a busy commercial

FIGURE 25.   Entrance to display on slave labor, Holocaust Memorial Center, Farmington

Hills, MI. Photo courtesy of Holocaust Memorial Center. Used with permission.

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street in suburban Detroit, features its own version of the iconic gateway, a somewhat impoverished, compressed imitation. The Michigan institution, billed repeatedly as “America’s first free-­standing Holocaust Memorial Center,” opened its new, vertically striped building in 2004, with a more experiential core exhibition than the one in Washington. The misproportioned and imperfect replica of the iconic Auschwitz gateway suggests we are entering, if not an era of Holocaust kitsch, then certainly one of Holocaust pastiche, empty parody, in which museums display symbols of symbols. If, as Herbert Muschamp wrote of the USHMM, this museum is a “place quarried from the memory of other places,”52 Detroit’s young museum is a place quarried from the memory of other museums. The Farmington Hills museum marks a trend similar to the one (noted in the previous chapter of this volume) in Robert Kuśmirowski’s Wagon, in which ongoing attempts to enter the Holocaust’s historical and memorial spaces and places, and the continued reproduction of its iconic images and forms, results in replication divorced from authenticity, authentication gone awry.

Transformations: From Icon to Symbol Another audacious visual modification of the iconic Auschwitz image, and legible as a response to Judy Chicago’s interrogative rendering of the gateway, may be seen in the cover image of a collection of writings edited by Melvin Jules Bukiet. If Chicago capitalizes on the universalist and comparativist connotations of the slogan, Bukiet plays off its more particularist and ironic meanings. The title of his book, Nothing Makes You Free (subtitled Writings by Descendants of Jewish Holocaust Survivors), has at least a double meaning: that, in the end, nothing (not work, not anything) will liberate members of the so-­called second generation from their parents’ legacy, and that perhaps the only possible freedom from this legacy comes through embracing “nothing.” This reading runs against Hirsch’s, who asks, apropos of this setting, “[C]ould ‘Arbeit macht frei’ not also be read, by and for us, in the second generation, as a reference to the tricks played by memory itself, the illusory promise that one could become free if one could only do the work of memory and mourning that would open the gate, allow one to enter back into the past and then, through work, emerge out again into a new freedom?”53

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Assembling a remarkable assortment of written material (fiction and memoir) by those for whom “Auschwitz” defines their own real-­life myth of origins, Bukiet describes the purview of the second generation’s collective memorial project and responsibility: “The Second Generation will never know what the First Generation does in its bones, but what the Second Generation knows better than anyone else is the First Generation. . . . We have been given an obscene gift, a subject of predetermined value that no one can deny. It’s our job to tell the story, to cry ‘Never Forget!’ despite the fact that we can’t remember a thing.”54 Aside from the title itself (Bukiet had originally wanted to call the collection, “The Next Best Thing to Being There,” but his publisher rejected that), what is striking and significant for this discussion is the book’s appearance. Clearly chosen for its linguistic resonance with “Arbeit macht frei,” Bukiet’s title received special treatment at the hands of his book’s designers, who interpreted his idea for the cover in a radical manner, digitally altering a contemporary photograph of the gateway so that the book’s title appears in place of the infamous slogan. As Bukiet recalls, when he received a mock-­up of the cover from his editor, he didn’t know what to think and wondered if it was “sacrilegious in some way.” But after consulting with a close friend, he concluded it was an acceptable, even profound, way of emphasizing the irony of his title and its resonances: “I’m substituting the evil untruth with the evil truth,” he thought.55 However, readers wishing to see the image for themselves (apart from its reproduction in this volume) will have to locate the hardcover version; the paperback edition, published about a year later, reverted to the original, unretouched photo, for apparently mundane reasons: Norton’s marketing committee felt the hardback edition’s s title was hard to read and did not “jump out” from the cover, and so changed it back. This story of Bukiet’s book cover shows both the malleability of the iconic image of the Auschwitz gateway in the digital age and, one might presume, the acceptability of such manipulation. Another example of the ways the slogan, divorced like Stella’s version from its canonical Auschwitz image, plays more freely in the fraught post-­ Holocaust memorial universe is the innovative and challenging Israeli play Arbeit Macht Frei vom Toitland Europa, presented by the Acre Experimental Theater Group from 1993 to 1996 and directed by David Ma’ayan. Here, the slogan, again released from its architectural moorings and historical references, is allowed to float more freely as a symbol for the political and cultural legacy of the Holocaust. The play, a five-­hour improvisational

FIGURE 26.   Cover of the cloth edition of Melvin Jules Bukiet, Nothing Makes You Free

(2002). Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

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performance derived from the personal experiences of the actors, began in its Israeli incarnation (it also played in Europe) with a tourist bus ride to Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot (the kibbutz in northern Israel founded, as its name implies, by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance and other partisans, along with other survivors of the Shoah) and a visit to its Holocaust museum; in the play, the tour and visit are led by two actors, first a woman playing Zelma, a survivor, then a Palestinian, Chalid, who compares the Holocaust experience to his own. The play moves from there to theater halls, cramped spaces, and, finally, a loud, multimedia, disco-­like atmosphere. Zelma and Chalid are joined by Moni, who plays Zelma’s son, to whom Zelma manically tries to transmit the Holocaust’s memorial legacy, while speaking condescendingly to Chalid, now playing her Arab laborer. It is difficult to summarize, let alone analyze, something that is really more performance art than traditional theater, which, in addition to the geographical sites it incorporates, also ranges through German and Hebrew popular songs, musings on nationalism, and a climactic scene, in which Chalid is seen “dancing naked on the ‘torture table’ that was earlier identified as an artifact from Treblinka, beating himself and inviting the spectators to beat him (which, in some performances, they did).”56 The violence in this climax implies an internalization of the traumatic residue of the Holocaust. The play, in taking its title from the Nazi slogan, suggests that “Arbeit macht frei” has been transformed into a symbol for the dangers of a surplus of Holocaust memory, the roots for the Israeli “national neurosis,” according to Tami Katz-­Freiman, an independent curator and art historian. She continues, “It demonstrates the paranoia fostered on the Israeli public, the cynical abuse of the Holocaust, and the moral permission it ostensibly gives us to abuse others. It criticizes the Holocaust industry, the obsessive memorialization, and the imperative to remember, and discusses the danger of transforming preoccupation with the Holocaust into a ritualistic substitute.”57 This is a long way indeed from the ironic, iconic phrase inscribed at various Holocaust sites.

History, Memory, and Theft “Arbeit macht frei,” as a symbol, marks a threshold, not so much separating the world of the camps from the world outside, but rather positioned at the flexible and very artificial line between history and memory.

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Historical investigation can clarify how it functioned at the time, and can correct misperceptions influenced by the postwar need for simplification and symbolization. It reminds us, for example, of the multiple versions of the slogan as displayed at concentration/labor camps during the Nazi era. During this period, the slogan’s symbolic meaning related to an ideology of purifying work, represented in a more literal understanding of the phrase. But at the end of the war, and with a different kind of liberation, the symbolic potential of the Auschwitz version of the slogan quickly became apparent, even against historical reality, as evidenced in the Soviet film footage. After the war cultural representations, in contrast, reveal the growth of those symbolic meanings as they develop in response to memorial and ideological agendas. These agendas rely on the flexibility afforded by iconic phrases like “Arbeit macht frei.” Frank Stella’s radical abstraction marks a transition from wartime symbolism to later postwar representations, which generally capitalize on the iconic Auschwitz image. Some of these appropriations, like Judy Chicago’s and David Ma’ayan’s, use the slogan or image to interrogate issues of the Holocaust’s comparability and universality and its political legacy. Others, like Art Spiegelman’s and Melvin Jules Bukiet’s, turn to the image as a way to dramatize their own, more personal, struggles with the Holocaust as a family legacy. And finally, some, like the USHMM’s and the March of the Living’s, utilize the gate to foster identification and identity in the shadow of the Holocaust. All of these adaptations of “Arbeit macht frei” must do without the fixed and immovable original; unlike a Holocaust-­era railway car, which, though large and increasingly difficult to locate, especially in usable condition, exists in multiple “authentic” copies, the Auschwitz version is singular. But, in what is a sign of the perceived importance of the iconic Auschwitz version of the gateway, on December 18, 2009, Polish thieves brazenly removed the sixteen-­foot sign weighing nearly ninety pounds and stole it in the overnight darkness. Museum officials quickly replaced the sign with a replica that was already available—­it had been fabricated in 2006 while the original was undergoing conservation—­while police searched for the perpetrators, assumed to be neo-­Nazis, pranksters, or souvenir hunters. After a three-­day search, authorities apprehended five men, believed at the time to be financially motivated and not neo-­Nazis, and recovered the sign, which had been sawed into three pieces to facilitate transport out of the country. Several months later authorities identified the mastermind behind the crime as Anders Hogstrom, a Swedish man with former neo-­Nazi ties for

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whom the Poles had stolen the sign. Hogstrom was sentenced in Krakow to two years and eight months in jail for his role in the theft at the end of December 2010, even though he maintained he was only a middle man for a politically motivated conspiracy; he cut a deal to allow him to serve his time in Sweden. Two of the Poles were also convicted and sentenced at the same time for their roles in stealing the sign and cutting it into pieces in order to fit into their vehicle; the other three Poles involved had been previously tried and sentenced.58 It was not until May  18, 2011, that the Auschwitz Museum reported that the sign had been painstakingly reassembled, using the latest conservation techniques.59 Clearly, “Arbeit macht frei” has become a valuable symbol of the Holocaust. In fact, it has become so valuable that Auschwitz museum officials have decided the original sign can no longer be displayed outdoors in its original location: at a meeting of the International Auschwitz Council on June 1, 2011, Auschwitz-­Birkenau State Museum Director Piotr M. A. Cywiński presented the expert opinion of conservators on the subject of exhibiting the Arbeit macht frei sign; maintaining conditions including a constant temperature and humidity are necessary for the preservation of one of the most important symbols of the European and world heritage. The display of the original

FIGURE 27.   Conservators examine the pieces of the “Arbeit macht frei” sign following its

recovery. Photo courtesy of Auschwitz-­Birkenau State Museum.

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in the open air, above the camp gate, is therefore out of the question. However, in order to ensure unhindered access for all visitors, the Museum plans to place the original sign within the framework of the future main exhibition. Members of the Council raised no objections to this solution.60

Originating in a phrase associated with a long tradition of the ennobling qualities of labor, then becoming the ironic symbol for Nazi duplicity and ultimately murderous intentions, until finding a second home in post-­ Holocaust art and other postmemorial representations, “Arbeit macht frei” sits on the threshold between our world and the concentrationary universe—­between sense and nonsense. Allow me to close with an application of the phrase that, in a final twist of irony, illustrates this nonsense, from Martin Amis’s 1991 novel Time’s Arrow. Amis’s novel tells the story of Tod Friendly, who experiences everything in his life backward. As he lives his life in reverse, his story progressively unfolding, he “becomes,” quite innocently, a Nazi doctor. One of the many implications of this narrative technique is that people grow younger, not older, and life “ends” at birth. In this context, our iconic slogan sounds apt, for when Friendly arrives at Auschwitz, he notes: “The overwhelming majority of the women, the children, and the elderly we process with gas and fire. The men, of course, as is right, walk a different path to recovery. Arbeit Macht Frei says the sign on the gate, with typically gruff and undesigning eloquence. The men work for their freedom.”61 Perhaps, just as Amis imagines undoing the iconic proverb’s historical meaning, the Auschwitz sign’s thieves also meant to undo history. Who would steal a sixteen-­foot icon? Perhaps only those who cannot bear confronting the murderous reality for which it stands.


From Innocence to Experience An Icon Comes of Age

There is perhaps no more recognizable icon of the Holocaust than Anne Frank; she is surely the most well-­known victim of the Shoah. In her 2009 volume, Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, Francine Prose writes: “It’s impossible to overestimate the power that Anne Frank’s image has had. She is instantly identifiable, whether we see her face on a book or projected . . . on a tower in Great Britain where Jews were tortured during the Middle Ages. It is an understatement to say that she is the single most commonly recognized and easily recognizable victim of the Nazi campaign against the Jews, or of any genocide before or since.”1 How has this come to be the case? The young writer and iconic Holocaust diarist Annelies Marie Frank has long been an object of fascination. Alvin Rosenfeld, Judith Doneson, Tim Cole, and many others have written about the universalization, “Americanization,” and/or de-­Judaization of Anne Frank in her diary’s reception and, especially, dramatization on stage and screen, culminating in a positive persona more reflective of general postwar optimism than Frank’s more complicated and layered self-­presentation. Rosenfeld, in 100

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a 2004 lecture at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, has said that “for decades [she] has been singled out as the preeminent victim of the Holocaust—­the one who, above all others, has given a face and a name to the catastrophe visited on the Jews of Hitler’s Europe.”2 He has called her “a primary emblem of victimization . . . [who] has assumed larger-­than-­life status as a symbol—­although one that in some ways belies the true nature of her life and death and stands in need of correction,” and he argues that “it is no exaggeration to say that Anne Frank is very likely the best known child of the twentieth century (her only possible rival might be Shirley Temple).”3 Why? While it may be presumptuous to add to the considerable scholarly discourse about Frank, including the cogent observations made by Rosenfeld and many others, I nonetheless wish to contribute some thoughts to the discussion, particularly pertaining to Frank’s position as a Holocaust icon. Frank, I argue, has served and continues to serve as a primary symbol of identification with the victims of the Holocaust because of her unique persona, situated as it is between the ordinary and the extraordinary, and due to her particular story, which is uniquely accessible and translatable to a global audience.4 In recent years, however, that persona, as well as its iconic nature, has undergone a shift, as Frank has come of age, so to speak. The result is a more complex and layered image of Frank that nevertheless does not appear to have weakened in its popularity. If we were to unpack the Holocaust icon that is Anne Frank, we could divide it into two main, intersecting components: one is primarily literary, gleaned from Frank’s writings, and the other is chiefly visual, gleaned from photographic, cinematic, and televised representations of Frank. A third component, which works to counteract the symbolic impact of the first two, derives from fictionalized treatments of her life and image. The icon that is Anne Frank is an amalgamation of the two main components, and the degree to which it changes over time depends both on the contributing aspects of each component and on their relative weights. Thus, when new editions of the diary have appeared, or when new considerations of Frank’s persona as a writer emerge, the literary component is affected, but when new photographs come to light or new cinematic/televisual treatments of the diary are released, the visual component is impacted. My aim in this chapter is to assess how Anne Frank is symbolized and how she functions iconically. Much as I considered Holocaust-­era railway cars in chapter 1 and the “Arbeit macht frei” slogan and gateways in

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chapter 2, I propose here that Frank is a key access point for Holocaust remembrance and reflection and that understanding in what ways she serves this purpose tells us much about how we think about the Holocaust.

Anne Frank as a Literary Icon Housing an Icon Before we can examine the multiple and intersecting components of Frank’s iconic persona, we must visit the place in which most of the events contributing to that image occurred. Such a visit is accessible through imagination to countless readers of the diary, since many editions include a graphic layout showing the three main floors of 263 Prinsengracht, with rooms, furniture, and functions labeled, as part of the author’s July 9, 1942, entry in which she describes the plan in detail.5 Hans Westra, former executive director of the Anne Frank House, put it this way, in the foreword to the exhibition catalog for the House: “By reading Anne Frank’s book or seeing the stage adaptation one is personally confronted with the reality of the persecution of the Jews. It is therefore understandable that many people want to see the actual hiding place where Anne wrote her diary. Over the course of the years this interest has continued to grow, giving rise to a paradoxical situation in which hundreds of thousands of people per year want to visit one of Amsterdam’s most hidden and secretive places.”6 Of course there is nothing hidden or secretive about the actual building at 263 Prinsengracht or its history; any tourist map has it marked, and the lines outside the door throughout the year make the Anne Frank House one of the most visible addresses in the city. “After the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum,” James Young writes, “it is the most popular tourist site in Amsterdam for foreign tourists, practically a place of pilgrimage for student backpackers in Europe.”7 The House had already begun serving as an appointment-­only tourist attraction in the 1950s, with tours led by Johannes Kleiman, one of the employees who had hidden the Annex residents, and others, following the publication of the Diary; the House opened as a small museum in 1960 to accommodate those visitors.8 Westra describes the structural modifications performed since then; after 1999 these modifications have allowed for the reconstruction of the front part of the building where Otto Frank’s business offices had been, returning

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to its wartime form what had been altered, for the 1960 museum, into a reception and exhibition space. The exhibition at the Anne Frank House begins with an introductory section on events in the Franks’ lives leading up to their disappearance into hiding on July 6, 1942, then shifts from chronology to architecture, via a room-­by-­room exploration and explanation of the spaces within the building and their uses and former inhabitants, interspersed with quotations from the diary, bringing into three-­dimensionality any reader’s heretofore imagined encounter with the spaces of 263 Prinsengracht.9 The exhibition catalog, compact like the house it illustrates (and thus excellent for packing into a suitcase for international travel), augments the austere displays with “color photographs from a temporary refurnishing of both the front part of the house and the Secret Annex” as well as black-­and-­white photographs of the rooms taken in 1954 by Maria Austria,10 the latter lending the illustrations a more historical-­seeming character. The catalog also includes period photographs and photographs of the rooms in their current state, often with museum visitors examining objects on display under glass on plain tables in otherwise empty rooms—­or rather, empty aside from some items left on the walls from the hiding period and contemporary video screens. The German occupiers had cleared the rooms of all furnishings, and the House’s officials decided to preserve the spaces rather than refurnish them. This was to honor Otto Frank’s mandate when opening the museum: to keep the space “in its original state as a symbol of the past,” though, as Laura L. Quinn points out, this “original” state is the condition the house was left in following and not prior to the inhabitants’ arrest;11 this decision and this construction of memorial space is thus a representation in its own right and subtly defines a new point of origin in the visitor’s experience of the house’s story that is at odds with the narrative that begins over two years earlier, with the author’s celebration of her thirteenth birthday and the Franks’ move into hiding shortly thereafter. This decision concerning the condition of the spaces also conveniently facilitated the contemporary movement of large crowds through these small rooms. Visitors are naturally drawn to the movable bookcase that hid the entrance to the Secret Annex, a bookcase installed about a month after the Franks went into hiding, and to Anne Frank and Fritz Pfeffer’s room, filing through the spaces quietly. (Dr. Pfeffer had joined the Frank and van Pels families in hiding in November 1942, and replaced Margot in the room she had shared with her sister.) In Anne Frank’s former room, visitors can

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see an array of film-­star, art, and other clippings, selected from her personal collection, that she had glued to the walls to make them cheerier. The standard tour does not include the attic, where Framk wrote most of her diary. Prose notes, “Only from the garret, which it is no longer possible to enter but which can be glimpsed in a mirror, could Anne see the sky outside, or the night stars, or the blossoms in her beloved chestnut tree, announcing that another spring had come.”12 Those unable to visit the House in person can follow the museum route on the House’s website, or on a CD-­ROM. In 2012 the Anne Frank Center USA, affiliated with the Anne Frank House, opened a new ground-­floor museum space in lower Manhattan, only two blocks from Ground Zero. Here, visitors can orient themselves via a three-­dimensional miniature of the Secret Annex and, in the “reflection room, fashioned after Anne’s room, . . . listen to audio loops of sounds Anne would hear there—­church bells ringing, wind in the trees—­and quotations of her diary. The experience lets children (and adults) connect to the young writer viscerally.”13 The Anne Frank Center USA’s website describes this space as an “enclosed area with life-­sized photography of Anne’s bedroom, where she wrote in her diary, [and which] offers visitors a uniquely immersive experience incorporating ambient noise and selections from Anne’s diary read aloud.”14 Indeed, a large-­scale color photograph of Frank’s furnished Annex room (probably from the 1954 staging), printed onto a curved wall, gives the illusion that one is inside her bedroom. Another exhibition, this time on the US West Coast, opened in October 2013 at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Simply titled Anne, this exhibition is, according to Edward Rothstein, “perhaps the most extensive exploration of Anne Frank in any museum outside Amsterdam.”15 Visitors follow Frank’s story along a circular path in historical and atmospheric context as Academy Award-­nominee Hailee Steinfeld reads passages from the diary. Entering a theater through a replica of the bookcase (here, my docent announced, “This is the hiding place”), the visitor watches a film encapsulating the time in hiding; Frank, played of course by an actress, appears only in silhouette. Videos in the penultimate section of the exhibition tell of the fates of those in hiding, and of Simon Wiesenthal’s quest to find Josef Silberbauer, the man who arrested those hiding in the Annex. Finally the visitor comes to facsimiles of diary pages and of the first diary notebook as a recording discusses the history of the diary; “Anne’s Legacy” concludes with sounds of birds chirping and water flowing in the final gallery space, where visitors can choose among several

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interactive touch-­screen displays—­“the diary’s supposed lessons for ‘making the world a better place.’”16 Back at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, following the museum’s route through the hiding places, a concluding section of the exhibition tells what happened to the Annex residents and their helpers following the arrest. Finally, the exhibition closes with examples of the original notebooks and loose sheets on which Frank drafted her diary, and a display of some of the editions of the diary published in over sixty languages.17 James Young has called the Anne Frank House a “Dutch ‘shrine of the book,’ a place where the nearly holy testament of her diary is to be taught and studied”;18 the religious dimensions of this statement demand analysis. Young appears to be intentionally playing off the name of the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which houses fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran that include passages from the Hebrew Bible. Both “shrines” exist to house revered literary artifacts—­ Young argues that “the diary functions as the heart around which the rest of the [museum] installation is given meaning”19—­that are viewed socially as a national or collective patrimony: the Dead Sea Scrolls reinforce the ancient biblical legacy of the modern State of Israel, while the diary reinforces a more modern inheritance of the universal “lessons” of tolerance gleaned from the Holocaust and, in particular, the diary. As a house for memory, of course, Jerusalem’s Shrine of the Book is sterile; it was designed as a shrine and never meant to represent a home. But the Anne Frank House is the place where eight people lived and, for over two years, survived the Nazi occupation, so that, despite being devoid of furnishings, it conveys a warmth and sense of habitability that invites visitors to identify with Anne Frank and imagine hiding there.20 At the same time, hovering in the background and conveyed by those empty rooms is the ultimate fate of the famous author and all (save one) of the Annex’s inhabitants—­mostly out of sight, but not out of mind. As the title of the exhibition catalog reminds us, this is a “Museum with a Story,” that is, not simply a museum, but a place with a story to tell, or even a place that tells its own story (to those who listen to it). Therefore, as a house for an icon, the museum delineates and occupies an interstitial space allowing for the visitor’s experience of multiple time frames and points of origin in Anne Frank’s story. As Quinn states, “If the Anne Frank House is granted a history and life of its own as a cultural text, its relationship to the present is not realized

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in the literal language of her texts, her witnesses or the museum’s narrative. Rather, it emerges in the barren, even haunted, space that allows for an echo of the original to be seen and heard.”21

The Diary Despite over sixty years and millions of visitors to the House, the vast majority of people all over the world connect to Anne Frank through her diary, which has been translated into over sixty languages and has sold over 31 million copies worldwide. Tony Kushner asserts, “The Diary remains the most popular non-­fiction work published since 1945.”22 However, scholars have acknowledged that the published version of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, is not, strictly speaking, a diary and does not represent Frank’s unedited or unprocessed daily reflections as recorded in her famous red-­ and-­white plaid thirteenth-­birthday present, itself an iconic artifact;23 as Francine Prose points out, the book is not so much a “diary—­a journal in which events are recorded as they occur, day by day—­but rather a memoir in the form of diary entries.”24 Indeed, historian Sally Charnow’s thorough examination of scholarly rereadings of the diary has called it a “literary work in progress, shaped by a dynamic interplay among literary genres: memoir, spiritual confession, novel, documentary, and reportage.”25 Scholarly examination of the diary has been greatly assisted by the publication in 1986 (1989 in English) of the Critical Edition of the diary, which set all the extant diary versions in parallel sections for easy comparison: version “a,” consisting of Frank’s original diary notebooks (missing entries between December  5, 1942 and December 22, 1943, which have been lost); version “b,” consisting of Frank’s revisions on loose sheets; and version “c,” the published version.26 But prior to the Critical Edition, followed by the so-­called Definitive Edition in 1991 (English translation, 1995)27 and the Revised Critical Edition in 2001 (English translation, 2003), the vast majority of readers experienced the diary (and still experience it)28 through a translation of version “c,” a translation that dates, in most cases, to the 1950s. We know that Frank quickly filled up that first autograph book within six months, though it took her over two months before she was writing in it regularly, probably because of the time it took to become acclimated to life in hiding, but also possibly because she was still working out the mode of address that would become her authorial voice and propel the diary forward

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in time. Melissa Müller writes, “Toward the end of September 1942 she had the idea of treating her entries as letters. . . . From then on, Anne wrote in her diary almost every day.”29 Frank continued writing regularly in at least two other notebooks (at least one lost notebook is presumed to be the “a” version for the bulk of the original 1943 entries). Most significantly, in a radio broadcast on March 28, 1944, she heard Gerrit Bolkestein, the Dutch government-­in-­exile’s minister of education, art, and science, declare, History cannot be written on the basis of official decisions and documents alone. If our descendants are to understand fully what we as a nation have had to endure and overcome during these years, then what we really need are ordinary documents—­a diary, letters from a worker in Germany, a collection of sermons given by a parson or priest. Not until we succeed in bringing together vast quantities of this simple, everyday material will the picture of our struggle for freedom be painted in its full depth and glory.30

FIGURE 28.   Anne Frank’s first diary notebook. © Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, Switzerland.

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On March 29, 1944, Frank then wrote: Dear Kitty, Bolkesteyn [sic], an M.P., was speaking in the Dutch News from London, and he said that they ought to make a collection of diaries and letters after the war. Of course, they all made a rush at my diary immediately. Just imagine how interesting it would be if I were to publish a romance of the “Secret Annexe,” the title alone would be enough to make people think it was a detective story. But, seriously, it would be quite funny 10 years after the war if people were told how we Jews lived and what we ate and talked about here.31

Hyman Enzer and Sandra Solotaroff-­Enzer remark, “This entry marks her first explicit reference to her imagining that her diary might be published after the war,”32 which is correct. But clearly the idea of writing for posterity was fermenting in the young author’s mind: in a significant passage dating to March 25, 1944, a few days prior to Bolkestein’s radio appeal, and existing only in the “a” version, in the course of a series of musings on her own growth while in hiding, the various quarrels in the Annex, and her feelings for Peter van Pels, Frank wrote: I also told Peter much less difficult things that I normally keep to myself; thus I told him that I wanted to write later on, and even if I don’t become a writer I won’t neglect my writing while doing some other job. Oh yes, I don’t want to have lived for nothing like most people. I want to be useful or give pleasure to the people around me yet who don’t really know me, I want to go on living even after my death! And therefore I am grateful for God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me!33

The last clause, beginning with “I want to go on living,” was posthumously moved to join with other “a” version reflections dated April 5 concerning her writing abilities, together dated April 4, 1944, in the “c” version, and in any case after Bolkestein’s radio address.34 However, on April 14, 1944, she doubted “whether in the future anyone will be interested in all my tosh” and added, “‘The unbosomings of an ugly duckling’ will be the title of all this nonsense. My diary really won’t be much use to Messrs. Bolkesteyn or

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Gerbrandi.”35 Nonetheless, it appears the desire to be a published author began to slowly take hold, for Frank wrote on April 21, “I want to send in to ‘the Prince’ to see if they will take one of my stories, under a pseudonym, of course, but because all my stories so far have been too long, I don’t think I have much of a chance.”36 On May 11, Frank confessed to “Kitty,” “you’ve known for a long time that my greatest wish is to become a journalist someday and later on a famous writer. Whether these leanings towards greatness (insanity!) will ever materialize remains to be seen, but I certainly have the subjects in my mind. In any case, I want to publish a book entitled het Achterhuis [literally “the house behind”] after the war, whether I shall succeed or not, I cannot say, but my diary will be a great help.”37 Finally, on May  20 she recorded, “At long last after a great deal of reflection I have started my ‘Achterhuis,’ in my head it is as good as finished, although it won’t go as quickly as that really, if it ever comes off at all,” though this entire tentative declaration is missing from the “c” version, perhaps because of Frank’s lingering doubts, so that a typical reader is left with the more positive entry of May 11 as the indication of Frank’s literary aspirations and a less self-­reflective accounting of her initial steps toward that goal.38 March 29, 1944, is also the diary date of the last extant revision Frank wrote on loose sheets of paper; presumably she reached that entry at the beginning of August 1944. Of course, revisions were less necessary after March 29, since from that point onward Frank would have written her first drafts with publication already in mind, even if it took weeks before her plan crystallized. In any case, with these revisions, her private, ordinary diary would, through this effort, become public and extraordinary; underneath its “ordinary” format Frank’s document would now become a literary construction, and the real people living in the Annex would now become literary characters. Frank was aided in this process through her own voracious reading; four of the five novels in Cissij van Marxveldt’s post–­World War I Joop ter Heul series (which Frank read in September and October 1942 and referred to in her diary)39 in particular had a profound impact: the protagonist, Joop, an upper-­middle-­class Dutch girl, is herself a diarist, and the novels adopt the diary format, which “helped Anne imagine her own diary as a literary work and offered her a heroine, similarly cheerful on the outside but ‘lonely, insecure, and serious’ on the inside, as a literary role model.”40 The diary form of second-­person address, which Frank had employed in her original version with a variety of addressees drawn from van Marxveldt’s Joop ter Heul characters, would now be consolidated into

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one addressee, “Kitty,” which may have helped solidify the writing and editorial processes.41 Prose suggests that “this device—­the diary letters to Kitty—­gave Anne a way of addressing her readers intimately and directly, in the second person: you you you. Perhaps it helped her write more fluently by providing her with an imaginary audience. Many people have found themselves prevented from keeping a diary or journal by uncertainty and confusion about whom exactly the diarist is supposed to be writing to or for.”42 As Jeffrey Shandler points out, “Where the original diary’s incremental format disrupted Anne’s vision of a larger narrative structure, she variously conflated, reordered, expanded, or tightened individual entries. . . . Moreover, she implicitly imagined that she would live to complete this work as a validation of surviving Nazi persecution and a celebration of Germany’s defeat.”43 Reflecting now on composing something for posterity while fashioning herself as an author, according to Charnow Frank “removed much of the explicit material about changes in her body, erotic desire, and sex”; further, “serving as her own editor provided Anne with an even more active exercise in fashioning an autonomous self through writing, in part by using the opportunity to imagine herself as an adult pursuing her chosen profession of author.”44 Despite these editorial decisions and revisions, the early versions of the published diary present themselves as found objects—­practically unedited, the opposite of literature—­concealing the considerable efforts on the part of the author, her father, and the publishers to produce a seamless document.45 It is this combination of an apparently seamless diary version, touched with the author’s express hopes for its posterity, delivered in a package perceived to be the direct and unmediated outcome of Frank’s diary writing, that contributes in large part to the iconic quality of the diary and, by extension, of its author.

Otto Frank Critical to this image of the diary and its author are the role and public perception of Otto Frank, the sole survivor of the eight persons who hid for twenty-­five months. As the Annex’s lone survivor, it fell to him to tell his daughter’s story and shepherd her book to publication. His role also brackets the narrative of the diary: it was he who gave Frank the iconic plaid autograph book in which she began her chronicle, and his return from the camps led Miep Gies to restore his daughter’s notebooks and manuscript

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pages to him (they had sat unread and untouched in her office drawer since August 4, 1944, the day of the arrest, awaiting their author’s return. “‘Here is your daughter Anne’s legacy to you,’” Gies had said to him upon retrieving the manuscripts, after they received news of the Frank daughters’ deaths).46 In many ways, Otto Frank is the hero of Anne Frank’s diary: rarely a negative thing is written about him (unlike the author’s mother), and in descriptions it often seems as if he is the most noble and selfless of the eight in the Annex. Indeed, his survival ensures the diary’s eventual publication; had he not survived, it is unlikely his daughter’s diary would have become the publishing phenomenon it became: he is the hero of the diary as well as the hero in it. Yet, Otto Frank’s role in relationship to the diary and its author is complex. Laureen Nussbaum suggests that, though Otto Frank had a “perfect right” to edit his daughter’s diary, “a prefatory note to this effect . . . would have saved him many future problems.”47 Charnow notes, for example, “For the most part, Otto Frank’s redaction of his daughter’s diary for publication, first appearing in Dutch in 1947 as Het Achterhuis, followed her revisions.”48 But actually Otto Frank’s redaction of the diary went through several versions, beginning with a partial translation into German for his mother, then a more complete Dutch version (“Typescript I”) that drew on the incomplete “a” and “b” versions as well as Anne Frank’s short prose writings. These were also composed while in hiding and were not all included in either “a” or “b” versions. Otto Frank also purportedly eliminated material he did not find “essential,” such as material removed “for the sake of propriety” and “some rather duller entries”; and “again, he left out a number of remarks his dead daughter had made about his dead wife.”49 He then shared this typescript with friend and radio dramatist Albert Cauvern, asking him to make corrections, after which Isa Cauvern retyped it (“Typescript II”). Otto Frank shared this version with other members of the family and friends.50 Prose writes that “his editing was guided by the instincts of a bereaved father wanting to give the reader the fullest sense of what his daughter had been like. Otto cut a number of Anne’s sharpest criticisms of her neighbors either because of a desire to make her seem like a nicer person, or to protect the sensitivities of the living.”51 Van der Stroom has also noted, not insignificantly, “Just to avoid any possible misapprehensions, Otto Frank made no additions to Anne’s original text.”52 We can perceive Otto Frank’s complicated agenda in his editorial decisions concerning the treatment of the names and pseudonyms in the

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manuscript. For example, as Prose writes, “Otto changed the names [in the diary], as Anne had directed”;53 though Otto Frank retained their original family name, which Anne Frank had originally intended to change to “Aulis” but then decided to make “Robin.” This is evidence, according to Shandler, that he had a “larger, hybridized agenda” to honor his daughter’s intentions and her memory while also protecting “from any disrespect that might arise in Anne’s ardent, candid writing” the memory of those “who had died and had no one to speak on their behalf (as Otto apparently did for his wife and daughters).”54 Müller notes that, in the author’s scheme, “Only Anne would remain Anne,” the only first name she did not wish changed.55 Thus, while Otto Frank usually receives the blame for excising certain passages from the diary to project and protect a certain more positive, simplified posthumous image of his daughter, one that is less angry at her mother and less reflective on her sexuality, we know now that that blame is largely unfounded or at the very least one-­dimensional, oversimplified, and decontextualized (see, for example Cynthia Ozick’s accusations against Otto Frank).56 Prior to 1986, “Otto Frank was sometimes criticized for censoring his daughter’s diary, expunging the detailed descriptions of her maturing body, discussions of her nascent sexuality, and bursts of anger directed against her mother and the other adults in hiding.”57 Yet those aspects remain in the published version, and people often fail to recognize that Mr. Frank was doing what he thought his daughter wanted—­ preparing her book for publication; moreover, she herself had cut many of the same passages in her own revisions, and in a number of cases, Otto Frank actually restored to the “c” version material his daughter had cut in her “b” version. Nussbaum shows how, “When Anne revised her texts, she left out most of her outbursts against her mother. . . . [I]t is interesting that Otto Frank restored several of them in the c-­version, for instance in the entry of October 3, 1942. He did the same with a sentence in the a-­version in which Anne expresses her longing for her first menstruation. Anne left it out in her rewrite, dated October 29, 1942. Her father reinstated the passage in the c-­version.”58 Prose adds, “How often he has been accused of purging the book of Judaism, of sex, of its ferocious mother-­daughter conflict, when in fact all those elements exist in the version he edited.”59 Charnow argues that, with the publication of the Critical Edition, “it becomes clear that Anne was often the one who had edited out [the] sections [her father is often accused of removing]. In fact, her father restored

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to the published version much of the material that Anne had excised in her revisions,” including “almost all of the entries about Anne and Peter’s evolving relationship that Anne had eliminated.”60 Laureen Nussbaum writes that there cannot be any doubt that when revising her black notebook during the late spring and early summer of 1944, only a few months after she had originally filled it with her outpourings, Anne had become very critical of her infatuation with Peter Van Pels and of her repeated de profundis calls on God and on the memory of her beloved grandmother. In the b manuscript she eliminates most of her more effusive entries of that emotional period, their essence having been sublimated in two of her tales of fiction. Otto Frank reinstated the bulk of those eliminations. Did he think that this mixed version made better reading in connection with the unrevised last part of Anne’s diary? Or did he want to preserve a stormy stage in the development of his beloved little Anne rather than allow her to present herself as the more objective and self-­ contained young writer she had become at such a precocious age? One can only speculate.61

Thus, Otto Frank serves as a kind of coeditor of his daughter’s work—­ though serially, and with no recourse for consultation with his redacting partner, so that it is perhaps more apt to call him a second editor—­a fact sometimes overlooked, with the result a less positive image of him in public discourse. In juxtaposing versions “a,” “b,” and “c,” the Critical Edition (and later, the Revised Critical Edition) of the diary makes it possible for the reader to assess the impact of a variety of editorial decisions, though, given the conflations of Otto Frank’s redactions with the published version, for which additional editorial decisions had been made, it is not completely clear who is responsible for deletions in the published version; more certain is responsibility for passages that were restored following Anne Frank’s deletions, which were most assuredly inserted by Otto Frank. Critically overlooked at times are the exigencies of publication: passages in which Frank writes about sex, menstruation, and her body that remained in Otto Frank’s version were actually deleted from the manuscript at the request of Contact, its first, Dutch publisher, not at Mr. Frank’s request (though Prose muses that he may have been relieved, and reminds us that “Anne herself ” had left at least some of those passages out in the course of her own revisions).62 Contact also shortened the typescript for

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space considerations, “probably . . . in order to make the book fit into their Prologue series.”63 Het Achterhuis was published in the summer of 1947 and “attracted unanimously favorable reviews”; it is the only version that utilizes Frank’s title as originally intended. French and German translations followed in 1950; the German version, based on an unshortened translation of Typescript II, is actually the most complete version of the diary until the Critical Edition appeared in the 1980s. In the United States, the manuscript “was initially rejected by nearly every major publishing house”64 but finally appeared in 1952, containing “seven passages more than the Dutch.”65 The editors of the Revised Critical Edition insist, however, that the “content of the complete texts of Anne Frank’s diary portrays her no differently than did that of the first version published in 1947, except for conveying a more rounded, a more detailed picture both of her development from a thirteen-­year-­old into a fifteen-­year-­old girl, and of her inner life and her progress as a writer,” adding, “Anne Frank has stayed the person she was.”66 That may be correct, but the fact remains that the more one-­dimensional picture of the author that emerges from the early, published versions of the diary is the dominant impression in the public mind and thus the heart of the iconic image of the young writer; even the publication of the Definitive Edition did not alter the fact that, according to Ozick, “the image of Anne Frank as merry innocent and steadfast idealist . . . was by then ineradicable.”67 What the variorum edition of the diary and the vast amount of painstaking critical attention to its contents and redaction history contribute to this iconic image is, primarily and perhaps paradoxically, the seriousness with which scholars approach the diary; although the critical discussions and particular details of the diary versions are largely obscured from public view and concern, that there is so much critical attention to them only enhances Anne Frank’s iconicity. The version of the diary with which most readers are familiar is actually the result of a curious tug-­of-­ war between its deceased author and her bereaved, driven father, himself interacting “offstage” with its publishers, a tug-­of-­war whose outcome was largely determined by Mr. Frank. Although the words were all his daughter’s, Otto Frank was like a midwife turned impresario, delivering the baby to the world. One final issue concerning the nature of the narrative of the diary bears noting: as a chronicle of the Annex residents’ time in hiding, abruptly terminated by their discovery and arrest, the diary has a beginning and

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a middle, but no real end. The conclusion to Frank’s story is known and noted in all versions of the diary, in a postscript at least, but in actuality that ending is not part of the diary itself. Therefore, as a narrative of the Shoah (and some, like Cynthia Ozick, question whether the diary can be so classified), the diary says fairly little about the Shoah. Holocaust Studies scholar Alvin H. Rosenfeld writes, “Her tale, set as it is in Amsterdam, unfolded far away from the places in Eastern Europe where most Jews were murdered. During the time she was hidden in her secret annex, Anne Frank was shielded from the worst aspects of the Nazi terror and knew about them only distantly. It’s true that ultimately she came to share the fate of millions of other Jews in the Nazi camp system, but inasmuch as her diary stops before this final grim chapter of her story, most readers are unaware of the actual circumstances of her end.”68 Ozick adds, “The diary’s keen lens is helplessly opaque to the diarist’s explicit doom.”69 In the extreme, some readers are initially unaware that Frank was actually murdered in the Holocaust; Rabbi Julia Neuberger’s foreword to the exhibition catalog for Anne Frank in the World, 1929–­1945 (further addressed later in this chapter) recounts the following story: A few years ago, I was talking to a school group about being Jewish and what that meant to me. After I had explained that my mother was a refugee from Nazi Germany, a child asked me whether I thought Anne Frank was the most famous Holocaust survivor. I was stunned by the question. After all, Anne Frank perished in Bergen-­Belsen in 1945, age fifteen. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the boy was right. Anne Frank is the most famous Holocaust survivor. But what survived was her diary, an intimate journal that led to her memory becoming in some way eternal, as people came to understand what the war against the Jews meant through the words of one young teenager.70

The mistaken impression regarding Frank’s survival itself becomes the subject of post-­Holocaust literary imagination. Prose contrasts the diary’s inherent reticence concerning Frank’s fate with the atrocity images not shown as part of the diary: “The semblance of ordinary domesticity that the Franks preserved enables Anne’s audience to read her story without feeling the desire to turn away, the impulse we may experience when we see the photos and footage of the skeletal dead and dying.”71 In this way, because of the absence of visual indices of the horror of the Shoah and the

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near absence of its narrative markers, the diary succeeds in holding readers’ attention. Rosenfeld adds, in an incisive point about the idealization of Frank’s short life and the popular image of Frank: “Following prescribed norms . . . the image of Anne Frank that has evolved over the years has been largely sanitized of any realistic sense of her life and death. . . . [H]er death is either glossed over or given a hopeful, even beatific character.”72 Thus, the end of Frank’s own chronicle and the ways the end of her life are or are not narrated are additional keys to the diary’s (and its author’s) iconic nature: these narrations either refrain from telling or showing atrocity, offering some illusory semblance of normal teenage life, or they transform the end (beyond the bounds of the diary) into a transcendent event.73

Anne Frank the Writer The iconic image of Anne Frank as diarist, therefore, depends on her readers largely ignoring evidence of her working at her craft and of her maturation as a writer, either because the evidence is hidden in plain sight in the early, published versions, or because it remains hidden behind a range of redaction decisions accessible, if at all, only to the primarily scholarly readers of the now revised Critical Edition. Nussbaum writes: “Since Anne revised her original text with insight and skill, she would have been indignant had she known how she is being used as a symbol onto which millions of people can project their feelings of guilt and of compassion. She would feel deeply hurt by the fact that fifty years after her death, her intentions and her work as a writer still have not been taken seriously, despite her dedicated efforts.”74 Gerrold van der Stroom has been one of the most vocal promoters of Frank’s claim to serious attention as a writer: asking rhetorically whether the publication of the Critical Edition fulfills the aim of completely documenting “the work of a great writer,” he does not answer based on the comprehensive nature of the Critical Edition, which certainly does offer such complete documentation, but rather replies, “This question still remains unanswered because Anne Frank has not conquered the world as a writer but as a saintly icon.”75 After briefly assessing the contours of, and possible reasons for, this iconic position, briefly discussing the two institutions that continue to protect the author’s legacy, and, pointedly, criticizing the so-­called Definitive Edition of the diary as adding nothing to the literary record already established in the Critical Edition (“this latest version d contains no new revelations except perhaps the hint that Anne

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Frank has been turned into an industry”76), van der Stroom concludes that the Critical Edition has indeed “done justice to the writer Anne Frank.”77 As a response to this perceived lack of attention to Frank’s stature as a writer, the USHMM, in honor of its tenth anniversary, created the exhibition Anne Frank the Writer: An Unfinished Story, opening first in a private viewing on June 11, 2003, featuring then First Lady Laura Bush (a former librarian and long-­time advocate for school libraries), and then to the public on June 12—­­what would have been Frank’s seventy-­fourth birthday. The central thrust of the exhibition (which was extended for three months to accommodate demand) was to broaden Frank’s legacy “as a writer and as a humanist”78 beyond the diary by displaying other, more imaginative texts she wrote during her period in the Annex: short stories, fairy tales, essays, even the beginnings of a novel. As we know, Otto Frank actually drew on some of this material in editing the diary for publication, but this material’s distinctiveness is lost in the context of the diary; the museum’s exhibit, in setting apart a series of Frank’s writings, highlights their originality and elevates our impression of the author as more than a scribbler. According to the USHMM’s final report on the exhibition: “The presentation of Anne’s thoughts and ideas showed not only her extraordinary talents as a writer, but also the depths of her awareness of the tragedy that was unfolding around her. The works revealed Anne’s dreams of being a writer, which coupled with the richness of Anne’s thoughts and works, also served to underscore the immense potential and tragic loss of the 1.5 million children who did not live to fully pursue their dreams.”79 In tying Frank’s wider literary legacy to her awareness of the unfolding Holocaust outside the Annex, the USHMM affords her a greater measure of consciousness about the outside world than is typically granted the young author, which also serves to present a more mature Frank to the present-­day world. The exhibition was accompanied by a web version, still available, and an educational publication featuring a selection of her writings. The USHMM also printed a keepsake, a copy of Frank’s essay “Give,” “which is Anne’s prescription for peace in the world,” distributed free to visitors as well as to teachers and professors who requested copies for classroom use, until “supplies run out.”80 “Give” is an impassioned appeal for people to engage in acts of charity, combining first-­, second-­, and third-­person writing in what reads a bit like a well-­wrought school essay or debate assignment: “Everyone is born equal; we all come into the world helpless and innocent. We all breathe the same air, and many of us believe in the same God”; “You should

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try comparing one of those beggar children with your own children!” “It’s terrible, really terrible, that people treat each other this way in a country like Holland, which claims to have such a good social system and so many decent, upstanding citizens.”81 “Give” originates in Frank’s Verhaaltjesboek, her “book of tales,” a collection of stories and sketches she described on August 7, 1943, as a “break” from her vignettes on life in the Annex (though the earliest draft of one of her “Tales” is dated December 8, 1942), which she began recopying in clean versions in a large stiff-­backed notebook on September 2, 1943, continuing until May 194482 (the neat copy of “Give” is dated “Sunday, 26 March 1944”). With this multileveled presentation, Anne Frank the Writer presents the iconic author to a twenty-­first century audience, allowing visitors to engage with a more mature image of the diarist as writer. It is one of the many ways people today have access to a more nuanced image of Frank.83 We cannot really fault Otto Frank for failing to deliver such a more nuanced image of his daughter, for he was in the course of editorial decisions negotiated among a range of factors, including desires to preserve and protect his daughter’s and family’s legacy and the wishes and needs of the publishers and the presumed reading public at the time. But by going back to, and indeed restoring, some of his daughter’s earlier and unrevised, and often more emotional, passages in the published version, Otto Frank not only turned back the developmental clock on his daughter, but also undid a good deal of her emotional growth. Perhaps this is because Mr.  Frank simply didn’t see his daughter as anything more than a child: Anne Frank’s biographer, Melissa Müller, notes that the parents’ decision to lodge Pfeffer with their younger daughter “instead of with the sixteen-­year-­old Peter van Pels corroborates Anne’s complaint that she was in fact regarded as a child. Otto as well as Edith Frank appear to have disregarded her growing need for privacy and obviously ignored their adolescent daughter’s sense of modesty, which was of course becoming all the more acute as she matured sexually.”84 Nonetheless, the fact remains that it is the version of the diary that Otto Frank shepherded to publication that, to this day, is the primary version people read—­the one on which Frank’s literary persona is based—­ and that most likely it is due to the elder Frank’s editing choices that the book became and remains so popular, as a literary artifact and iconic remnant, contributing as well to a broader iconic role for Anne Frank in post-­ Holocaust culture. That wider role, however, is based on more than literary achievements and evidence.

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Anne Frank as a Visual Icon Portraits and Snapshots “If Anne has a face caught in a snapshot, so did the million other Jewish children whose photos were lost; her photograph should be seen alongside other snapshots, not alone, but together with the other children who also perished. They, too, had names. And we ought to recite their names, too, and not become fixated on the one child, on Anne alone. That does her memory discredit.”85 Despite Henry Huttenbach’s admonition, it is difficult not to fixate on images that have become iconic, not only due to their ubiquity, but also and especially because they frequently offer entry points for imaginative identification. Consider, for example, the iconic image of the boy from the Warsaw Ghetto, fixed forever in photography and in public vision and consciousness with his hands held up.86 Indeed, as the multidisciplinary scholar Marianne Hirsch has observed, while reflecting on Marjorie Agosín’s, Dear Anne Frank, This volume of poems written by a Latin-­American Jewish woman is inspired and motivated by an encounter with an image that has become generally familiar and well-­known, perhaps even as pervasive, in contemporary memory and discussion of the Holocaust, as the image of the boy from Warsaw. In both cases, these are images of children. Indeed, if one had to name the visual images most frequently associated with the memory of the Holocaust, these two would certainly be among them. As images of children, their familiarity and openness to identification allows Agosín to project herself directly into the image and to bring its murdered subject out into her present world with extreme ease.87

How has the ease of identification with and pervasiveness of Frank’s image contributed to her iconic status? We cannot really isolate the image of Anne Frank the writer and diarist from an overall impression of her. Nonetheless, the rich though not extensive visual record on Frank contributes greatly to her iconic status. Central to that status is the photographic record she left behind that, until more recently, largely reflected the literary persona advanced by the most publicly accessible versions of the diary. The dust jacket of the first American edition of the book featured an author’s photograph selected by her

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father, taken in 1939, when she was only about ten years old (fig. 29). “In the photo, among the most sedate of Anne’s portraits, her beautiful face conveys a wistful intelligence and a piercing sweetness.”88 But it was also one she had herself selected and pasted into the first diary, along with a

FIGURE 29.   Dust jacket of the first US edition of Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl (Doubleday, 1952). Photo © Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, Switzerland.

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note: “This is a photograph of me as I wish I looked all the time. Then I might still have a chance of getting to Hol[l]ywood. But at present, I’m afraid, I usually look quite different. / Anne Frank. / 10 Oct. 1942 / Sunday” (see fig. 30, center right).89 One might spend considerable time parsing this statement, with its self-­ deprecating tone and adolescent wish for fame, noting that the photo is an enlarged version drawn from a series of passport-­style photos, some of which appear on the opposite page of the first diary notebook; the Franks would take such photographs “nearly every year.”90 Bear in mind that Frank, at the age of thirteen, selects as ideal a picture of herself at about the age of ten, and that she is pasting it into her diary three months after she and her family have gone into hiding. The diary serves as a scrapbook here, and one imagines the thirteen-­year-­old Frank cutting and pasting photos into it to pass the long hours of daytime silence the family had to observe. Moreover, Frank’s own act memorializing her younger self implies a wistful engagement with a more free and innocent time of which she must have become painfully aware. But Prose suggests that this photograph “was a publisher’s dream”; a reviewer of the first American edition of the diary noted, “What she has left behind is a book of extraordinary human and historical interest, as living as the mischievous, intelligent face in the photograph which confronts the middle-­aged reader with the same shrewd pertness that must so often have been turned on her parents and the Van Daans.”91 Later editions of the book feature other, sometimes less serious photos. For example, my 1967 paperback edition features a cropped copy of the photograph Frank had affixed, using photo corners, to the inside front cover of her original diary (see fig. 31). She had added the caption, “Gorgeous photograph, isn’t it!!!!” and the annotation, on the opposite page in red, “Annelies Marie Frank 1941/1942 Winter.” But the reader will immediately notice that there is no photograph in the place clearly left for it in the reproduction here of the inside cover (see figure 32). At some point in the process of digitizing the original diaries, which were bequeathed to the Dutch state, the photograph was separated from the inside front cover of the first autograph book; thus the images are reproduced separately here. In a way, the image of the first diary bereft of the photo its author selected as its frontispiece poignantly highlights the role the original diary played as a scrapbook and as a family album, with the absent photograph signifying loss: we might think of our own photo

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FIGURE 30.   Page spread from Anne Frank’s first autograph book, including the October 10,

1942, entry with photograph, on the facing page (opposite), along with other photographs on the left-hand page (above). © Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, Switzerland.

albums and the pictures that have been removed or have simply fallen out, as well as the irrevocability of those absences.92 Of the extant images, this is among the photographs that shows Frank at her oldest and, like several photographs of her, sets the young writer at a desk or table, with an open book in front of her, implying a direct relationship between the artifact in the photo and the autograph book in which the picture had been mounted; the cropped version on the cover of the 1967 edition eliminates the book and only implies the desk, a subtle but not insignificant change that serves to decontextualize the photograph, isolating Frank’s head and torso but disconnecting the author from indices of her craft (see fig. 33). Shandler observes that, “since the 1950s the most common feature of covers of the diary is a photograph of Anne, either one of the portraits that she had pasted into her original diary notebook or another picture of her selected from family photographs. The repeated use of these images—­the building, the plaid notebook, a photo of Anne—­has established an iconography for the diary that has become an extension of Anne’s life and work.”93

From Innocence to Experience  • 123

FIGURE 30.  (Continued ).

Part of that iconography is the recurrence of portrait-­style photographs featuring the author gazing directly into the camera, often as if interrupted in the act of writing, as in her Montessori school photograph from the winter of 1940 or the 1941 picture of Frank at the writing desk at home in Merwedeplein. Photographically, Frank’s life and work have been extended, in several directions, well beyond these familiar portraits of the young author used in publications of the diary and its offshoots. In 1985 the Anne Frank House inaugurated a traveling exhibition, Anne Frank in the World, 1929–­1945, that, aside from its eight thousand words of text, used over six hundred photographs to tell her story in broader historical context. First and foremost, though, the exhibition helped transform Frank back into an ordinary child, at least initially. The late University of Michigan professor Sidney Bolkosky wrote, In that exhibit she is transformed from a symbol, an emblem—­created by the diary and fostered by such productions as George Stevens’s 1959 film—­into a child, sharing qualities of most children. . . . The photographs reveal her in new

FIGURE 31.   Annelies Marie Frank, winter 1941–­1942 photo that had been affixed to the

inside cover of the first autograph book. © Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, Switzerland.

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ways, with friends, playing, mugging for the camera, bound to her sister, her father, and even to her mother. She emerges from those miraculously recovered photographs as part of a family, sometimes sentimental, usually smiling, eyes dark and wide; a child growing up in relative security and peace.94

From Frankfurt am Main in the 1920s through the rise of Nazism in Germany and subsequently the Netherlands, and from portraits of the Jewish communities in both countries, through World War II, resistance activities, anti-­Jewish measures, and eventually the end of the war (with a postscript addressing postwar and contemporary antisemitism and racism), this exhibition provides a broad visual framework for Frank’s experiences over the entirety of her short life. But, the “exhibition is far more than a presentation of Anne’s story: it is a fight against the forces of darkness that overwhelmed the Frank family, European Jewry, the Sinti-­Roma, the homosexuals, and all those who tried to battle against the Nazis in those days.”95 Thus it illustrates her world, providing a wide photographic context for her life story.96 In 2004, an even more significant exhibition, as far as this study is concerned, opened. Anne Frank: A Private Photo Album, premiered at the Kraushaar Galleries in New York City. Produced by the Anne Frank House, in collaboration with the Anne Frank Center USA, this was an exhibition of seventy-­one family photographs (some of them previously exhibited and published as part of Anne Frank in the World, 1929–­1945) taken by Otto Frank with his Leica camera, “one of the first to be sold commercially.”97 “Not everyone owned a camera in those years and the photos clearly exhibit that sense of self-­consciousness created by the documentation of moments of importance.”98 As explained in the companion volume sold at the exhibition, Victor Levie selected the photographs from albums that had been in the Annex during the period of the Franks’ hiding; this fact is known because Frank had removed some photos from those albums and pasted them in her diary “as recollections of a happier period, while at the same time, expressing her desire for a better future”;99 there are no known photographs taken during the hiding period. On this lack, Jan van Kooten speculates that “Perhaps the Secret Annex was too dark, or [Otto Frank] found this too painful, or he didn’t have his camera at hand.”100 The resulting collection, therefore, bears a talismanic relationship to Frank and the others in hiding: these photographs are marked by their once physical proximity to the time in the Secret Annex; as artifacts, they are survivors of that episode

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FIGURE 32.   Inside cover of Anne Frank’s first autograph book. © Anne Frank Fonds, Basel,


yet at the same time speak to an innocent time before the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. As Prose notes, “Scores of photos survived the war, striking visual images that would contribute to Anne Frank’s celebrity.”101 In addition, knowing the back story of these photographs—­that they were taken by the only survivor of the eight in hiding—­places the viewer in the photographer’s position, gazing through the lens at his family, and makes the viewer a surrogate survivor looking sadly now at these visual elegies for a family long gone.

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FIGURE 32.  (Continued )

Like any family photo album, the images in this exhibition and companion volume are terribly ordinary, recording Otto Frank’s daughters’ milestones, trips to the beach (see fig. 36), birthday parties, visits with relatives.102 In framing the exhibition as a “private photo album,” the organizers capitalize on the idea of the family, “construct[ing] every visitor as a familial subject” in a manner similar to the ways public institutions like the USHMM adopt family photos—­borrowed artifacts, I would note—­in displays like its Tower of Faces (as Hirsch suggests in a different context).103

FIGURE 33.   Cover of the 1967 paperback edition of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

(Doubleday, 1952). Photo © Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, Switzerland.

FIGURE 34.   Anne Frank, Montessori

school photograph, Amsterdam, winter 1940. © Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, Switzerland.

FIGURE 35.   Anne Frank, Merwedeplein, Amster-

dam, 1941. © Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, Switzerland.

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Hirsch understands how the “idiom of family” becomes a trope in a number of artistic works in “the aftermath of trauma”;104 I would add that the imaginary reconstitution of the Frank family in the Kraushaar Galleries’ exhibition invokes an affiliative relationship with (and among) its viewers. These viewers are also voyeurs inasmuch as the collection of photos on display is, by its

FIGURE 36.   Anne Frank, Zandvoort, The Netherlands, August 1934. © Anne Frank Fonds,

Basel, Switzerland.

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title, deemed private: when visiting this show or paging through its companion volume, it is as if one is peeking into the Frank family’s personal effects. But then again, this is what visitors to the Anne Frank House do every day. Otto Frank, as the family’s photographer, is rarely the subject of the images, though his shadow looms over many (see fig. 37), a fact Levie reads

FIGURE 37.   Anne Frank, Singel, Amsterdam, winter 1935. © Anne Frank Fonds, Basel,


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as intentional: “Besides these photos there were experiments with light, with his own shadow as an integral part of the composition, and with advertising photography.”105 Otto Frank’s shadow is certainly suggestive, if we read back into these images the fact that only Otto survived, and that metaphorically his “shadow” in many ways looms over the publication of, and hence the fame that has accrued to, his younger daughter: “The contemporary view we bring to the photos, along with our knowledge of the Frank family’s history, endow the images with an extra dimension.”106 But this reading is problematic, and we should be careful of such backshadowing, like that which appears on the cover flap of the accompanying volume: “Nothing we see in Otto Frank’s photos reveals the horrors that Anne and her family will later have to endure.” How could they? The blurb continues, however, “What we now know about the fate of Anne Frank has an effect on how her book Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is perceived. Equally so, it is now impossible to view the photos that portray her life with an impartial eye.”107 The images in the photo exhibition alone cannot much change our visual impression of Frank as both writer and hidden Jew, because they naturally stop prior to the period in hiding. The photographs in the published volume stop in April 1941, but the gallery exhibition included one final photograph, with the following label: “‘Soon we’re going to have pictures taken again; I suspect you’ll get a new photograph from us then.’ (Anne Frank, in a letter to grandmother Alice Frank in Switzerland, Spring 1942). This last photo, taken in May 1942, is no longer just any snapshot. As the most frequently published photograph of Anne Frank, for scores of years, it has served as a symbol of six million lives cut short.”108 This photograph of Frank (see fig. 38) is among the last known depictions of her, from not long before she went into hiding,109 but it was not among those she pasted into her diary. It could therefore be a surviving image from an album that was not in the Annex but was rather kept with other items Otto Frank had secured with friends prior to the family’s disappearance.110 It is the most popular reproduction of her face, yet, interestingly, its own history as an artifact is distinct from that of the diary. What Anne Frank: A Private Photo Album does is open our perspective onto the author’s physical appearance, giving us windows onto her development almost until the age of twelve and situating her more firmly in an ordinary family context. Thus, indirectly at least, our static visual impression of Frank as Holocaust icon is contextualized and normalized, counterbalancing the near saintly image and presence she possesses for so many. These

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FIGURE 38.   Anne Frank, May 1942. © Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, Switzerland.

family photographs do not override or erase the iconic image of Frank but rather add layers of poignancy to the visual record of the young author that ultimately enhance and strengthen that iconic impression. All of the extant photographs of Frank, taken prior to June 1942, leave her appearance in hiding and after to the viewer’s imagination, so that “readers must imagine what changes took place in her appearance during those two years, as she went through puberty and grew in size, issues discussed in the diary,” much as the diary’s ending requires readers to imagine the scenes of arrest, deportation, incarceration, and death (or their alternatives). L. J. Nicoletti reminds us that Frank “gained seventeen pounds” within the first three months in the Annex, and that wall marks used to

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track her growth “show she grew over five inches unseen”—­to us, that is.111 This imaginative extension of Frank’s physical appearance (and life), Shand­ ler adds, has taken place in photography as well, as in a “digitally altered image that projects what Anne would look like had she survived the Holocaust and lived to celebrate her 80th birthday in 2009. . . . created for the Anne Frank Trust UK.”112 The basis of the new photograph is the same well-­known May 1942 passport-­style image, already among the pictures that show Frank at her oldest. The resultant age-­progressed photograph, created by the Phojoe company using “‘forensic compositing’ techniques” otherwise employed in criminal investigations and to “‘find missing people’ . . . implicitly imagines solving the crime of her murder by undoing it, thereby restoring the diary’s ‘missing’ author to her public.”113 Of course, the diary’s author has never been missing to her public, because the diary by itself does not explicitly include her death, and Frank continues to “live” through the continual reprinting of, and global fascination with, her diary. This “life” is suspended in a state of arrested development, insufficiently counterbalanced by the visual fantasy of age-­progressed photography; Albert Friedlander has noted, “One of the sad illusions in

FIGURE 39.   Age-­progressed pho-

tograph of Anne Frank by Jovey Hayes, courtesy of www​.Phojoe​ .com and the artist.

From Innocence to Experience  • 135

which we indulge is the ‘Peter Pan syndrome’ in which the object of affection remains eternally youthful,” suggesting that this practice, in the case of Anne Frank, has denied her “the slow ripening into maturity . . . quite apart from the way she has entered into the existence of others.”114 Thus, the dominant image of Frank remains frozen forever on the covers of her famous diary and elsewhere, her personality suspended, photographically at least, in nearly all instances, on the cusp of puberty. The age-­progressed Anne Frank is a fantasy, then, distinct from the fantasy embodied by the apparently eternal life of the diary and, through it, its author. The iconicity of Frank’s persona through photographic portraits of her is enhanced by a triangular feedback loop of gazes articulated by Marianne Hirsch in a long but critically important observation of the mechanisms of identification with photographs like those of Anne Frank: The use of familiar public images, whatever their provenance . . . enfolds viewers in a postmemorial membrane made of familiar artifacts: viewers will remember seeing these images or others like them before. When Agosín describes Anne Frank’s photographic presence in her childhood, her readers will likely remember seeing the same image during theirs: respective memories will trigger one another across subjects and spaces. As readers, we can thus enter the network of looks established in Agosín’s poem—­we imagine Marjorie looking at Anne’s picture, which is looking back at her and at us; at the same time, we look at our own earlier selves looking at Anne’s photograph or thinking about her story. The memorial circle is enlarged, allowing for shared memories and shared fantasies. As we look at these images, they look back at us, and, by means of the mutual reflection and projection that characterizes this act of looking, we enter the visual space of postmemory mediated by certain readily available public images of the Holocaust.115

In particular, it is this “postmemorial membrane made of familiar artifacts,” in which Frank’s photograph is notably present and pliable, that contributes to the culture of Holocaust icons. This is especially true of Frank’s image because, despite its high degree of specificity and recognizability, it still shares with other images of children a degree of universality, vulnerability, and opportunity for identification. “Less individualized, less marked by the particularities of identity, moreover, children invite multiple projections, and lend themselves to universalization. Their photographic images elicit an affiliative and identificatory as well as a protective spectatorial

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look marked by these investments. . . . Children, moreover, were particularly vulnerable in Hitler’s Europe. . . . It does not matter whether Anne Frank survived or not for us to feel that vulnerability; with statistics of such enormity, every child whose image we see is, at least metaphorically, one who perished.”116 A striking artistic intervention that plays with these themes of projection, spectatorship, life extension, and postmemorial engagement is apparent in artist Rachel Schreiber’s 1999 Anne in New York, described by the artist as “a series of images that investigates the representation of Anne Frank as an American icon of the Holocaust. There is a certain irreverence to using Anne Frank’s visage in anything other than a sacred context. By doing so, I attempt to wrench the viewer out of the more familiar trappings of Holocaust imagery: barbed wire, flames, black and white images of trains, etc.”117 Something like a sequence of graffiti tags or missing persons posters, this series appears to be a repeated, spray-­painted stencil of the 1939 photo that was used on the cover of the first American edition of the diary (see figs. 29 and 30) applied to sites throughout Manhattan, including a phone booth, a hot dog cart, and a twenty-­four-­hour peep show doorway. But passersby are oblivious to these photographs, because it turns out they are digital manipulations: this truly missing child is recalled in Schreiber’s work virtually, and no one can happen upon her photo on the street and think “I’ve seen that face somewhere” because the pictures are not really there. In a meditation on absence that represents the opposite of the now missing photograph in the first autograph book (see fig. 32), Schreiber imagines inserting Frank back into the picture, not as an age-­progressed forensic photo used to solve a crime, but rather as a ghostly, haunting presence from the past reminding viewers of the crime that has already occurred.118 Hirsch suggests that the combined affiliative and protective impulses viewers feel toward and upon seeing images of Anne Frank—­and, in general, of children in the Holocaust—­lead viewers and readers into fantasies of rescue while at the same time eliciting transformations in the viewer as s/he “sees the child victim through the eyes of his or her own child self. . . . Identificatory looking and protective looking coexist in uneasy balance.”119 This coexistence contributes, in Frank’s case, to her iconicity, by establishing a tension between the reader/viewer’s identification with her and his/her desire to protect her, a tension that can only enhance an imagined and deeply engaged relationship with her. This imagined relationship, in turn, reinforces Frank’s iconicity, because it is decontextualized and highly

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accessible: “the easy identification with children, their virtually universal availability for projection, risks the blurring of important areas of difference and alterity—­context, specificity, responsibility, history. This is especially true of . . . images of children who are not visibly wounded or in pain.”120 In this regard, Anne Frank’s endlessly repeated visage, despite subtle variations, is certainly the most recognizable and widely acknowledged Holocaust photograph that yet shows no visual trace of the Shoah’s horrors.

From Stage to Screen Icon In the 1950s, versions of Anne Frank’s persona rapidly proliferated among American audiences: the US publication of the diary in 1952, the Broadway stage production debut in 1955, and the release of the Hollywood film directed by George Stevens in 1959; from this point on, English-­language adaptations of the diary have led and influenced the worldwide representation of its author.121 Alvin Rosenfeld summarizes these new American representations: “As played by Susan Strasberg on stage and by Millie Perkins on screen, Anne appeared as a vivacious and lovable girl next door—­a figure who suited the general spirit of postwar prosperity and conformed to a political mood that was generally ‘feel good’ and conservative.”122 Rosenfeld rightly notes that this view was in tune with the times, which had not yet absorbed the impact and magnitude of the Holocaust; according to Edna Nahshon, the Broadway production “marked the first time that the mainstream American theater presented a play whose plot focused on the Holocaust.”123 That is to say, the Holocaust had not yet emerged as public memory of any general sort in the United States, so that popular representations of Frank had little cultural ground on which to lodge. (Hasia Diner has shown that American Jewry had indeed been processing the Holocaust during this period.124) One might even suggest that, absent that cultural framework, these representations participated in the creation of Holocaust memory in America, and not vice versa; it is notable that the play received the Pulitzer Prize, usually given to recognize the best “American play, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life,” despite its lack of American context or reference.125 The foundational role played by these initial representations of Frank in American culture might be one reason why it has been so difficult to dislodge the basic image of Frank established in the 1950s.

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This multimedia rise to public consciousness developed alongside early American awareness of the Holocaust through its universalization and through American Jewish desires for integration to US society, as film historian Judith E. Doneson suggests. She views the oft-­cited de-­Judaization of Anne Frank’s story in the context of postwar 1950s America, driven by McCarthyism, conformity, and assimilation: “The universalization of the Holocaust through the diary, that is, the adapting and adjusting of images so that a broad consensus of the population can identify with the event, diminishes its Jewish particularity,” adding, “Within this context of the quest for universal meaning in American society, The Diary of Anne Frank becomes a universal symbol.”126 Or, as Rosenfeld observes, “Hounded by her former countrymen as a Jew and placed under a death sentence for the same reason, she has been largely stripped of that part of her identity in her posthumous career as a cultural icon.”127 But the quest for universal meaning does not completely exclude Jewish identity; rather, Jewish identity is articulated against a backdrop of 1950s Jewish America, parodied for example in Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer (1979). In this novella, the ubiquitous protagonist Nathan Zuckerman is taken to task for his self-­ hating tendencies by the fictional Judge Wapter, who tells him to see the Broadway production of The Diary of Anne Frank to discover what “Jews are really about.”128 As Jewish Studies scholar James Young observed over twenty years ago, Zuckerman’s critics are telling him, if you know nothing else about being Jewish, know Anne Frank, now a two-­sided metonymy for both Jewishness and Holocaust. For as Roth recognizes, Anne Frank has become for many in his postwar generation without other Jewish memory a kind of martyrological icon, dying so that a new generation of Jews might live—­and identify—­as Jews. Her name in lights and her face on the cover of every weekly magazine would now remind postwar Jews that she died somehow for them; without any other Jewish memory or knowledge, this generation will remember that Anne Frank died for being Jewish.129

Indeed, according to Edna Nahshon, “the notion that seeing The Diary of Anne Frank is an exceptional, morally galvanizing experience has a considerable history, dating back to the play’s first production.”130 In this way, in the absence of either a strong Jewish or strong Holocaust identity, Anne Frank functioned as a touchstone for a rapidly assimilating and

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suburbanizing American Jewry, who could identify with her because her popular persona was not too Jewish.131 For 1950s America, Frank represented a blank slate on which Jews and non-­Jews could draw a picture of the Holocaust and of Jewishness with which they were most comfortable. Of course, what is most interesting about Roth’s novella is his audacious resurrection of Frank, to which I will return below. On the issue of universalism versus Jewish specificity, Doneson rejects claims made most famously by Meyer Levin, an early advocate for the diary, whose attempted dramatization of the diary was, according to Doneson, turned down for its poor theatric quality, but who maintained until his death that it was rejected for being too Jewish. For Doneson, Otto Frank played a major role in ensuring that the script based on his daughter’s diary kept war and Jewishness in the background, to broaden its appeal: “[H]e wanted to memorialize Anne, which meant stressing the diary’s universal aspects over its specific Jewish content for the purpose of providing a means of identification for the general public.”132 Husband-­and-­wife writers Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett were hired to dramatize the experiences of the Annex residents, eventually producing eight drafts before the work was accepted, extending and even inventing diary episodes in the process.133 The most egregious example of such invention might be the new final diary entry they created: And so it seems our stay here is over. They are waiting for us now. They’ve allowed us five minutes to get our things. We can each take a bag and whatever it will hold of clothing. Nothing else. So, dear Diary, that means I must leave you behind. Goodbye for a while. P.S. Please, please, Miep, or Mr. Kraler, or anyone else. If you should find this diary, will you please keep it safe for me, because some day I hope. . . .134

The abrupt ending, meant to symbolize the arrest, calls to mind the ending of Dan Pagis’s poem, “Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway Car” (discussed in chapter 1). Frank is permitted to have close to the last word here, reducing over two years of tense confinement and privation to “our stay here,” and artificially rendering the actual terror and chaos of their capture (never recounted in the real diary, of course) into an orderly affair in which Frank gets to say goodbye to her diary. The resultant simultaneous Americanization and universalization also served to make the European experiences narrated in the diary accessible to

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a US audience and contributed in no small way to the further iconization of its author, demanding little actual knowledge of the events surrounding World War II from American audiences, and yet suggesting to them that their participation as audience members in stage versions of the diary might be sufficient to make them knowledgeable about the Holocaust and, through the character of Anne Frank, facilitators of its transcendent meanings. Literary and Holocaust Studies scholar Lawrence Langer has been one of the most vocal critics of the Americanization of the Holocaust, presenting the staging and screening of The Diary of Anne Frank as a key example of the phenomenon: “How much darkness must we acknowledge before we will be able to confess that the Holocaust story cannot be told in terms of heroic dignity, moral courage, and the triumph of the human spirit in adversity?  .  .  . There is no final solace, no redeeming truth, no hope that so many millions may not have died in vain. They have. But the American vision of the Holocaust . . . continues to insist that they have not, trying to parlay hope, sacrifice, justice, and the future into a victory that will mitigate despair.”135 A key moment in this American transformation of Frank occurs at the end of the play with the repetition of the now immortal line that has come to serve as an epitaph for the author (“I still believe . . . that people are really good at heart”) and, in between, the actor playing her father oddly remarking, “It seems strange to say this, that anyone could be happy in a concentration camp. But Anne was happy in the camp in Holland where they first took us.”136 The playwrights’ intention, as Rosenfeld points out, is to provide an “uplifting” closure to the theater experience: “To be sure, audiences know that the people in hiding are to be taken away, but they can leave the theater with the feeling that Anne Frank’s spirit will remain strong and that her confidence and courage will accompany her to the end.”137 The repetition of Frank’s famous phrase contributes to this sense of redemption; as Alex Sagan points out, “Anne’s hopeful words are repeated as if nothing had changed between the moment Anne Frank actually expressed her hopes and the posthumous moment in which they are reasserted.”138 The play was a huge success: “If Anne Frank has been made into what we nowadays call an ‘icon,’ it is because of the Pulitzer Prize–­winning play derived from the diary—­a play that rapidly achieved worldwide popularity, and framed the legend even the newest generation has come to believe in.”139 When staged in countries that had direct connections to the Holocaust, “productions  .  .  . were often regarded as commemorative

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events”; in Germany, the play opened nationwide in seven cities on October 1, 1956, leaving audiences in silence after the closing curtain; in “Israel . . . attending a performance of The Diary of Anne Frank came to be regarded as an experience that transcended an ordinary evening in the theater. Israeli critics repeatedly characterized the performance as something akin to a ritual,” one calling it a “sacrament, a prayer, and a requiem,” and another seeing the production as “the unveiling of a monument, the lighting of a memorial candle for the dead.”140 These religious and even martyrological characterizations of the theatrical experience of, and engagement with, Frank’s persona and story feed into saintly personifications of the main character that transcend Jewish doctrinal boundaries, as Ian Buruma has noted: “Anne Frank has become more than a writer, and more than a victim of the Holocaust. . . . She has become an almost sacred figure, a Jewish Saint Ursula, a Dutch Joan of Arc, a female Christ. I grope for Christian examples, since Jews don’t canonize their martyrs as saints. Nor do Jewish saints offer universal redemption.”141 I will address this recurring notion of Frank’s “sainthood” below. The enormous success of the play and the larger audience anticipated for the film spurred Goodrich and Hackett to further universalize the diary in their screenplay, and it is in the 1959 film that Anne Frank as icon reaches her apotheosis, even as the nuances of her writing and experiences in hiding are erased in favor of mass-­market dramatic appeal. Although the universalization and Americanization of the Annex residents’ story on stage and screen is well known, what is less frequently addressed is the degree to which the film, even more than the play, emphasizes the melodrama of Frank’s experience: its original theatrical trailer proclaims that “‘no greater suspense story has ever been told than . . . 20th Century Fox’s masterful production of The Diary of Anne Frank! . . . . Here is the thrill of her first kiss! Here is the wonder of her youth! The excitement of her first love! The miracle of her laughter!’ These promises are delivered on by the film itself, a psychological thriller in which the erotic tension leading to a first kiss races against the heroine’s inevitable capture by the Gestapo.”142 The real drama and suspense the residents of the Secret Annex and their helpers faced every day for over two years are trumped by the emphasis on the drama of young love in close quarters. Against the long, slow development of Frank’s interest in Peter as recounted in the diary (recall that, when he first arrived at the Secret Annex, Frank described him as a “rather soft, shy, gawky youth; can’t expect much from his company”),143 the film

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almost immediately establishes both Frank sisters’ interest in him, along with Peter’s initial interest specifically in Margot, not Anne, creating a narrative tension in his slow shift in affection toward the younger sister over the course of the movie. In the original play, for example, Peter’s first attraction is more clearly expressed toward the younger sister as they alone discuss where he attended school and he declares that he saw her, despite her comment that she never saw him there; the film adds Margot to the scene and makes her the initial object of Peter’s interest, making a triangle out of what in the play was a simpler dyad.144 And although both the play and the film shift the scene of Otto giving Anne her thirteenth birthday gift, her first diary notebook, from before they went into hiding to their first day in the Annex, the film turns the episode into a diversion by Otto to distract Anne from clearly being left out of Margot and Peter’s bonding over his cat and what appear to be some cookies, deleting entirely an exchange in the play between the author and her father about Peter.145 Indeed, it is not until about halfway through the film, during the Hanukah celebration at the end of Act I that turns tense when the sounds of a burglar are heard below, that we see Peter’s interest shift to Anne. Throughout the film, Frank looks old enough so as not to make the viewer of this budding love affair squeamish (Perkins was nineteen when she played the part), even as her affect and demeanor are silly and juvenile; Leshu Torchin describes Perkins’s portrayal of Frank as “pouting and prancing,” her performance “petulant and coy,” and her “romance with Peter as very chaste; the squabbling between them echoes the fussing before reconciliation of Hollywood screwball comedies.”146 As to the charge of de-­Judaization, Doneson notes that the film does not so much ignore the Annex residents’ Jewishness as it jettisons explicit references to antisemitic incidents in the diary and transforms the rest into something more general: “[T]he film seeks an audience identification with the Jewish victims for the purpose of appealing to a universal antipathy toward the persecution of all men. The Jews and the Holocaust become a symbol for the suffering of man in general.”147 But it is the particular character of Jewish suffering and of the “weak Jew” in the film that, in Doneson’s astute reading, contributes to the “universal acceptance of the diary:” “The Jew in the film is weak because he [sic] is a victim. His ability to act in any meaningful fashion is subject to the whims of his oppressor or the kind deeds of his potential savior. It is this dependence on the gentile that makes the passivity of the Jew unavoidable. This is the thrust of the film’s

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structure—­the tenuous relationship between the Christian protector and the Jew who relies on him.”148 On the face of it, such passivity might not seem especially palatable to an American audience that might prefer more active heroes, but here it is the important role to be played by righteous gentiles within a system that encourages good Christian behavior that helps make the story of the Annex residents’ time in hiding accessible. This context of Jewish-­Christian relations, according to Doneson, supplies an additional key to understanding especially the cinematic version of the diary’s mass appeal. As is well known, the 1959 film version of The Diary of Anne Frank emphasizes Frank’s apparently eternal optimism, most significantly in its last scenes, which, as in the play, repeat her oft-­quoted and just as often decontextualized phrase, adapted from her widely cited long July  15, 1944, diary entry, “Yet I keep [my ideals], because in spite of everything I still believe that people are good at heart.”149 The reader should remember, by the way, that this phrase was not originally uttered while Frank and Peter van Pels were gazing through the skylight in the attic moments before the SD and Green Police arrived to round up the Annex residents one floor below (at which point, in the film, they finally kiss, then descend to join the others, waiting for the police to break down the door). In both the Hollywood film and the original Broadway play, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart,” is Frank’s last statement, in a voice-­over while her father looks at her diary after the war. “At the conclusion of the film, music soars, birds twitter, the camera ascends toward the puffy clouds dotting the calm sky, while, on the sound track, the girlish fashion model playing Anne Frank reaffirms her faith in humanity. Clearly, people, or some people, are good at heart, but the reality of Anne’s story, the reality of Auschwitz and Bergen-­Belsen, would suggest that some people are basically evil at heart.”150 Against Bruno Bettelheim, who famously blamed the Franks for placing too much emphasis on staying together in hiding and living their lives as normally as possible, and who sees Frank’s statement as a fundamental “negation of the reality of Auschwitz” (since human goodness would make Auschwitz impossible), Doneson sees this final statement as mitigating “Christian responsibility.” It is not a denial of Auschwitz, but rather the forgiving of a Christian lapse of goodness. For as Anne becomes a symbol of the Holocaust, her words become the affirmation of a post-­Holocaust civilization. Anne’s words give man the opportunity to continue living without guilt because she still believes in him.

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Her belief becomes a form of forgiveness, and only Anne (and other victims) can forgive. Universal forgiveness, then, for the failure to live up to a fundamental Christian belief is a main function of the film.151

Frank becomes Christ-­like here in her (retroactive) ability to forgive humanity its sins. In this way, the conclusion of George Stevens’s cinematic version of the diary offers relief and release from any Christian responsibility for the Holocaust, thus alleviating any sense of guilt among its American viewers for not having done more to save European Jewry and projecting into the future the reconstitution of Christian civilization. Without having had to suffer the Holocaust personally, and without having to watch Frank and her family and friends suffer on screen, American viewers receive absolution from a salvific Anne Frank, reaffirming Christian ideals of love and forgiveness, and alleviating any unease at watching Jews in hiding who might otherwise have appeared too Jewish to elicit such affinity and identification in the process.152 Indeed, Rosenfeld argues that, as a result of such “falsifications,” “Anne Frank has emerged as a figure more closely aligned to the Christian tradition of celebrating those whose beatific nature lifts them above the ravages of human suffering than to the Jewish tradition of mourning the victims of unjust and unredeemed suffering—­precisely the experience of Jews in Nazi-­occupied Europe.”153 It is no wonder that the 1959 film The Diary of Anne Frank has so successfully cemented the dominant image of Frank as Holocaust icon, especially because “it is the American imagination that decides how the Holocaust is to be remembered.”154

Arrested Development James E. Young cites John Berryman’s famous essay on Frank, which advances the idea of the “‘conversion of a child into a person,’ the becoming of Anne Frank’s self in a world that would not let her self develop because she was Jewish,”155 as evidence of a non-­Jew’s interest in the development of Jewish identity. I want to suggest that the normal development of Frank’s persona into adolescence was further impeded by early popular culture representations, which have restricted her character’s development over the time period of her diary, often prohibiting her from growing into the fifteen-­year-­old she was at the end of her diary prior to the time of her capture. For one of the consequences of Frank’s early iconization was her initial infantilization: there is a huge difference between a thirteen-­year-­old

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and a fifteen-­year-­old teenage girl, but the early representations of Frank leave her largely frozen in time at the age she went into hiding. Part of this is dictated by the circumstances of the Franks’ disappearance and the available photographic documentation, since no photographs exist of the author from that period. But another part of this representative bias is a result of the ways Frank has been portrayed. For example, considering the theatergoer’s introduction to Frank, Prose points out that “practically the first thing we see her do is remove her underpants, in full view of her fellow actors and the audience,” continuing, Judaism is only one feature that was altered in the makeover that left the character of Anne Frank virtually unrecognizable as the author of the diary. On the page, she is brilliant; on the stage she’s a nitwit. In the book, she is the most gifted and sharp-­sighted person in the annex; in the play, she’s the naive baby whom the others indulge and protect. For all her talk about being treated like a child and not knowing who she was, Anne saw herself as an adult and the others as children. In the drama, those relations have been reversed.156

For the 1959 film adaptation, in which the young model Millie Perkins made her acting debut, Torchin observes that the “film’s tempering of the more provocative elements of Anne’s thoughts and behavior, as revealed in her writing, renders her more an innocent child than a developing, occasionally moody adolescent, a strategy that serves the film’s depiction of Anne as a universal symbol of hope.”157 The illusion of childlike innocence contributes as well to the image of Frank as saintly. Yet, despite the fact that the actress playing Frank is older than the author was at the time and appears older than thirteen in the film, her character’s behavior makes her appear juvenile. Note also the way writers, including scholars, almost universally refer to her: by her first name, Anne. We would not typically refer to a recognized author in this way; this serves to further infantilize Frank. A number of early critics, especially, write about the young author as if she were a small child: as but one example, Bruno Bettelheim, in his famous essay, “The Ignored Lesson of Anne Frank,” refers to her as “little Anne.”158 Even the title of the American version is telling: it is the “diary of a young girl,” not a young woman or even an adolescent. Most recently, the name of the new exhibition at the Museum of Tolerance devoted to her is simply Anne. This infantilization is tied to her de-­Judaization, as Prose contends: “On stage

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and screen, the adorable was emphasized at the expense of the human, the particular was replaced by the so-­called universal, and universal was interpreted to mean American—­or, in any case, not Jewish, since Jewish was understood to signify a smaller audience, more limited earnings, and, more disturbingly, subject matter that might alienate a non-­Jewish audience.”159 The image of an immature, optimistic Frank prevailed for at least thirty years. When in 1986 the critical edition of the diary was published in the Netherlands, followed by the English translation in 1989, a shift in perception could have begun. But this massive volume was primarily of academic interest, and even the 1995 publication of the more user-­friendly “definitive edition” seems to have had little popular impact. In truth, other works about Frank were being published in the meantime, and these alternatives to “the cheery sentiments about Anne’s transcendent triumph over death”160 have begun to trickle into more popular representations, which had largely been resistant to placing Frank’s story in a more complete religious, social, and historical context. As an example of this resistance, consider that, while of course it was known that all the residents of the Annex, with the exception of Frank’s father, were murdered in the Holocaust, that fact, by necessity, remained an afterword to the published diary, setting it apart from her autobiographical remarks and thus, conveniently for an audience uncomfortable with the ugly truths of the Shoah, easier to overlook. George Stevens’s 1959 film transformed that discomfort into transcendence, with at times offensive counter-­historical results, as we have seen.

The Jewish Saint? A change has become more evident in the early twenty-­first century, one that I think will have a lasting impact on Anne Frank’s public image. After more than forty years without any new live-­action cinematic or televisual adaptations of her story, two mini-­series, ABC’s 2001 Anne Frank (known as Anne Frank: The Whole Story) and the BBC’s 2009 Diary of Anne Frank place her tale in a broader context, which finally the public appears more willing to digest: the reality of the Holocaust, including the significance of her Jewish identity, as integral to Frank’s experience.161 The ABC version, based on Müller’s unauthorized biography, was produced without Frank’s own words (due, it appears, to a dispute with the Basel, Switzerland–­ based Anne-­Frank Fonds, which holds the copyright to the diary, over certain script elements) but notably expands the narrative to include her

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experiences in the camps and her death. Near its end, it depicts a starving, desperate Frank in Bergen-­Belsen kicking a fellow inmate attempting to steal her food; the last scene in which she appears shows Frank, wrapped only in a tattered blanket, cradling her dead sister’s head while other desperate inmates fight over her belongings and Frank slowly gazes upward to the heavens through a hole in the barracks roof. “As The Whole Story attempts to liberate Anne from sentimentality and beatification, its enactment of this brutal passion play demonstrates her vulnerability and extends her role as witness to the Holocaust far beyond the scope of the diary.”162 The BBC version, on the other hand, capitalizes on the availability of the full texts of the diary since the 1980s, from which it copiously quotes, acknowledging Frank as a writer; among other notable aspects of its more complex portrayal of Frank, it “pays considerable attention to Anne’s sexuality.”163 Problems with melodrama remain, of course, as does the problem of universalization, which may never completely disappear in spite of these recent televisual treatments. Indeed, while the false dichotomy of “universal” and “Jewish” that shaped the 1950s image of Anne Frank has largely disappeared, because Jewish identity and Holocaust imagery are both significantly less marginalized now, the desire to grant suffering transcendent, universal meaning has not. Torchin writes, “Yet even as the [BBC] miniseries provides this more human vision of Anne, it occasionally upholds the sainted child martyr. Indeed, I argue that the desire for a more complex, fully human portrayal of Anne, as offered in this miniseries, is part of this devotion to her, as it . . . gives her increased relevance in a contemporary world that finds earlier portrayals of her too facile.”164 For this meaning to be produced and consumed publicly, Frank must still become and remain extraordinary in popular perception. That she is extraordinary is beyond doubt, but the “reason” she was murdered—­which is the reason she has become a Holocaust icon—­is because she was also exceedingly ordinary. I would like to use this conflation of the ordinary and the extraordinary to discuss, finally, an issue that has hovered in the background for this entire chapter. Religious language abounds in the descriptions of Anne Frank’s persona: “forgiveness,” “transcendent,” “eternal,” “beatification,” “benediction,” “devotion,” “saintly,” “martyr.” How can we make sense of these terms as applied to an assimilated Jewish teenage girl who is both the most famous Holocaust victim and its enduring symbol, whose death was but one of an estimated one-­and-­a-­half million children murdered in the Shoah? There are essentially two underlying themes to these descriptions, which cannot

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be simply rejected as hyperbole: sainthood and martyrdom. Martyrs are witnesses to the faith: they die for their beliefs because they consciously refuse to compromise on the doctrines they consider absolute. Saints are holy people: recognized for their virtues, they are assumed to reside in heaven after death; they may be venerated, and people pray to them to intercede in heaven on their behalf. Both of these terms are best known in their Christian contexts, but other religions have versions of martyrs and saints. So if Frank is considered a martyr, we must ask, for which belief did she die? For the adolescent faith in humanity that, taken out of context, has been made into a trite slogan? The problem with making Anne Frank or any Jew murdered in the Holocaust into a martyr is that typically a martyr has agency: a martyr chooses to die for a belief rather than compromise that belief. But compromise was not available to Jews caught up in the maelstrom of the Shoah: Nazi ideology offered no choice to its victims, because it was not Jewish beliefs Hitler was trying to eradicate, so much as Jewish identities and identity. Thus, making Frank into a martyr not only does her a disservice, it also impacts our understanding of the Holocaust, implying that Jews died for a reason other than being Jewish, for some transcendent purpose, to testify to the victory of Jewish faith over Nazi evil. Perhaps this was the case for some, but it is too much for one fifteen-­year-­old budding writer to bear. In a similar manner, Anne Frank is no saint. To be sure, her image and persona have largely remained virtuous and innocent, as one would expect from a teenager of her time and place. And Judaism does, in fact, accommodate a concept similar to sainthood, such as that among Jews of North African descent whose practices include venerating holy men and visiting them at their graves to pray for some type of heavenly intercession (to become pregnant, for example, or to find a suitable mate). But this is not the notion of sainthood active in Frank’s case, wherein the idea of interceding with the divine is not at all present. And yet Anne Frank is both saint and martyr to many, perhaps millions, and this is ultimately why she is a Holocaust icon. She is deemed saintly, on the basis of her virtue, and she is venerated, though more as the object of a secular, cultural obsession than for any righteous acts. She is a kind of martyr as well, despite not having chosen her fate, because, out of millions of nearly anonymous others, she has become the recognizable face of Nazi victimization with whom millions identify, thus bearing witness not so much to the truth of Judaism as to the falsity and absolute evil—­the negative transcendence—­of Nazi ideology. And in her afterlife, she functions

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much as a martyred saint would, with objects bearing her name and an image that can be bought, brought home, cherished, and revered; for many, she represents the potential for good in the world in which they desperately want to believe. It is no wonder the Museum of Tolerance relied on shorthand in calling its exhibition Anne; she is so well known, so familiar, that no other name, no other word, is necessary. As her face gazed down on drivers in Los Angeles from banners advertising the exhibition, it was as if she were blessing them all.

An Icon Comes of Age Before concluding, I would now like to return to a third component in the construction of the icon of Anne Frank: fictionalizations of her life—­ especially, fantasies about her survival—­and the concomitant revisions of her image. In this regard, Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer has long been considered the benchmark. As readers will recall, Roth’s novella is striking and shocking in its central conceit: that Anne Frank actually survived the war and is none other than the student and young mistress of protagonist Nathan Zuckerman’s idol, the writer and college professor E. I. Lonoff. She had become “Amy Bellette” and had spent three years in foster care in England, where, conveniently, she had accidentally burned her tattooed camp number while ironing a blouse, thereby replacing it with scar tissue. She then moved to the United States to attend Athene College in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Ordering copies of Het Achterhuis directly from the Dutch publisher, she read it three times through upon receiving it. In doing so, she came to the realization that Anne Frank must remain dead in order for her diary to live and have an impact, especially because the Anne Frank of the diary is so assimilated, so recognizable—­the Jews of the Secret Annex so much like ordinary (i.e., non-­Jewish) people—­making the horror of their death sentence that much more horrible. “This was the lesson that on the journey home she came to believe she had the power to teach. But only if she were believed to be dead.” That is, as a living author, she could only offer “amusement for ages 10–­15; dead she had written, without meaning to or trying to, a book with the force of a masterpiece to make people finally see.”165 See what? “See what you have done,” perhaps, rather than “See how I survived.” Bellette’s wish appears more mature and less idealistic than Frank’s had been, once upon a time: “She was not after all, the fifteen-­year-­ old who could, while hiding from a holocaust, tell Kitty, I still believe that

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people are really good at heart. Her youthful ideals had suffered no less than she had in the windowless freight car from Westerbork and in the barracks at Auschwitz and on the Belsen heath. She had not come to hate the human race for what it was—­what could it be but what it was?—­but she did not feel like singing its praises.”166 Her goal appears to be simply for people to see the reality of the Holocaust, for the sake of the dead, by wielding the one weapon she had at her disposal: “Het Achterhuis, van Anne Frank. And to draw blood with it she would have to vanish again into another achterhuis, this time fatherless and all on her own.”167 Thus, eventually, and despite a deep desire to do otherwise, Amy Bellette/Anne Frank decided one day that it was too late to let her father, Otto, know she had survived: No one would have believed her; no one other than her father would have wanted to. Now people came every day to visit their secret hideaway and to look at the photographs of the movie stars that she’d pinned to the wall beside her bed. They came to see the tub she had bathed in and the table where she studied. They looked out of the loft window where Peter and she had cuddled together watching the stars. They stared at the cupboard camouflaging the door the police had come through to take them away. They looked at the open pages of her secret diary. That was her handwriting, they whispered, those are her words. They stayed to look at everything in the achterhuis that she had ever touched. The plain passageways and serviceable little rooms that she had, like a good composition student, dutifully laid out for Kitty in orderly, accurate, workaday Dutch—­the super-­practical achterhuis was now a holy shrine, a Wailing Wall. They went away from it in silence, as bereft as though she had been their own. But it was they who were hers. “They weep for me,” said Amy; “they pity me; they pray for me; they beg my forgiveness. I am the incarnation of the millions of unlived years robbed from the murdered Jews. It is too late to be alive now. I am a saint.”168

In fantasizing about Anne Frank’s secret survival, Roth is deftly engaging her iconicity; her death in the past is so powerful it must prevail over her life in the present. The character Amy Bellette, who may herself be fantasizing about her secret identity, has come to the very realization that Roth’s readers may not yet have reached in 1979: that Anne Frank is literally larger than life, frozen in time in the materials she left in her wake—­she cannot

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grow older in public consciousness because the world needs her to remain dead, in a tragically arrested state of development, so that, paradoxically, she can incarnate those millions of other deaths in her own. As she says to Lonoff, “And if you love the child in me, why shouldn’t you? There’s nothing strange in that—­so does half the world.”169 But what if Anne Frank were permitted to age naturally? What if the Phojoe fantasy of an age-­progressed Frank was a reality, hiding out in your own attic? A novel by Shalom Auslander, Hope: A Tragedy, pushes the bounds of fantasy and taste even further than previously imagined, though with profound and provocative results. In this uproariously hilarious and potentially offensive book, a deliberate response to Roth’s classic, Solomon Kugel, a somewhat troubled salesman obsessed with his own potential last words, moves to the upstate New York countryside with his wife and young son to get away from the city; his mother—­who fantasizes that she is a Holocaust survivor, even though her family had been safely living in the United States for generations—­soon joins them. Kugel’s mother, a stand-­in for a certain American Jewish personality, “suffer[s] from a concentration camp experience she never had,” in writer Steve Stern’s apt description;170 there is also an arsonist on the loose in this less-­than-­idyllic refuge, burning down farmhouses, matching the elderly Mrs. Kugel’s Holocaust fantasies with real holocausts. Their house, Kugel learns, already has a resident, however: an elderly and deformed woman hiding in the attic who says she is Anne Frank, working on her magnum opus. Auslander’s “Anne, a grotesquely aged and prickly survivor who has hidden from life since the war, is calculated to outrage all those for whom the doe-­eyed diarist is sacred.”171 An all-­too-­literal, savage return of the repressed, this Frank fantasy aims to upend every shred of iconicity while symbolizing the Anne Frank in our collective (American Jewish) attic, disturbing our sleeping and waking moments with her incessant demands on Kugel’s, and our, attention. Kugel discovers her while looking for the source of the terrible stench and constant tapping that have been plaguing him since he moved into the house: I’m calling the police, he said. He snapped off his flashlight and backed toward the stairs, afraid to turn away from her. She waved in annoyance again, shuffled forward out of the eaves, settled in front of the computer and, as if nothing at all out of the ordinary had occurred, began to type.

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That was the sound. The tapping of the keyboard. He’d been hearing it for days. Kugel stopped at the head of the attic stairs. And let me tell you something else, he said. She continued to type, paying him no attention. I don’t know who you are, he said, or how you got up here. But I’ll tell you what I do know: I know Anne Frank died in Auschwitz. And I know that she died along with many others, some of whom were my relatives. And I know that making light of that, by claiming to be Anne Frank, not only is not funny and abhorrent but it also insults the memory of millions of victims of Nazi brutality. The old woman stopped typing and turned to him, fixing that hideous yellow eye upon his. It was Bergen-­Belsen, jackass, she said. Kugel continued to glare at her, even as he felt a flush of shame color his face. He turned and began climbing down the stairs. And as for the relatives you lost in the Holocaust? she continued. Kugel stopped and looked at her, and when he did, she yanked up her shirtsleeve, revealing the fading blue-­black concentration camp numbers tattooed on the inside of her pale forearm. Blow me, said Anne Frank.172

It turns out that this Anne Frank has been hiding in attics since she survived Belsen, taking advantage of a series of families’ pity. “Perhaps it’s true that I am seeking to have it both ways; I want to be Anne Frank without the Holocaust, but I use the Holocaust to subsist, to get what I need: shelter, food, a place to work. To that I plead guilty. But would you have let me stay here if I hadn’t told you who I am? I doubt it very much. I’m a survivor, Mr. Kugel—­not of this war or that, but as a type. I survive. I do what I have to. I survived death in my youth, and I’ve been surviving ever since.”173 If the Holocaust icon is a type of surviving image,174 this survivor has transcended/transgressed that notion of enduring iconicity, upending, perhaps, its sacrosanct legacy. By the end of Auslander’s novel, he has transformed the Holocaust’s most famous, sainted victim-­icon into a fictionalized, profane personification of the ultimate survivor, leaving death and destruction in her wake. This hyper-­real, grotesque Anne Frank has nothing of the Holocaust icon about her, though she survives nonetheless. She has come of age, and more.


The Holocaust as an Iconic Number Six Million In every computation there are question marks. . . . However elaborate or cumbersome these computations may be, their purposes are simple. The primary goal is a single number that in a quintessential manner expresses the Holocaust as a whole. —­Raul Hilberg, “The Statistic”

In 2003, the Israeli funk/hip-­hop group Hadag Nahash released their second album, Lazuz (To Move). One track from that album, “Misparim” (“Numbers”), encapsulates, in many ways, this chapter’s themes. In it, the lead singer, Sha’anan Streett, raps his way through a kind of historical-­ political accounting, mixing the national (“echad hu mispar hamedinot/ bein hayarden layam/shtayim—­mispar hamedinot/sheyom echad yihiyu kan”; “One is the number of countries/between the Jordan River and the 153

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sea/Two—­the number of countries/that will be here one day”) and the personal/economic (“chamisha shkalim ola nesia beotobus ironi/be’etzem arba tishim/aval ad she-­hadisk yetz’e/notru od kama chodashim”; “It costs five shekels to ride the [city] bus/Well actually four ninety/but you have a few months/till the CD comes out”), all from a decidedly left-­ wing perspective—­a leftist “echad mi yode’a” (“Who knows one?”) for the Internet generation.1 The refrain, “gam ani kmo kol hayehudim asuk bemisparim/esrim vearba sheva shteim esre chodashim”; “I am too, like all Jews, obsessed with numbers/twenty-­four seven, twelve months,” suggests a religio-­national obsession, or at least preoccupation, with numbers. As the song progresses, its litany of statistics escalates into a complaint against corporate greed, government policies, waste, inflation, economic inequity, even music piracy. But the last verse marks a significant shift: “ve-­adayin ha-­mispar hachi gadol ad hayom/shemegalem et hatikva aval mamchish et ha’ason/huze [k’she’]omrim oto/kol adam shafu’i over ledom hu . . . / shesh miliyon”; “And still the biggest number, until today/that [embodies] hope but [reifies the] disaster,/is one that [when it is said] makes every sane person stand [at attention]:/six million.” In videos and performance, Streett stands silently and ambiguously, hands behind his back, for a few moments following this line, before the final refrain. It is not clear if Streett is endorsing or subtly mocking the implied respect toward, attention to, or even obsession with the Holocaust embodied in his stance.2 Hadag Nahash’s song suggests the power of the iconic number, “six million,” not only by presenting it as the culmination of an otherwise fairly random sequence of integers, from one to six million, but also by proposing its silencing effect. The direct allusion is surely to the widespread practice in Israel on Yom Hashoah ve-­Hagevurah (literally “Holocaust and Heroism Day,” but usually called simply Yom Hashoah) of standing still when a memorial siren blasts, with the implication that in both this annual public commemoration and in the song, “Misparim,” the number “six million” possesses the power to silence all speech, including political protest and opposition. How can anyone complain about CEO salaries or traffic fatalities in the face of the central statistic of the Shoah? And yet, by expressing that very opposition in the course of the song, Streett gives voice to such political protest. Indeed, his stance at the end, physically counterbalancing his lyrics, may embody a subtle critique of the silencing power of this all-­important number—­one person indicating the potential problems borne by an Israeli counting from

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one to six million, linking the singularity of the Jewish state to the symbolism of that “six million.” Altogether, in the song (as in life), “six million” becomes the number that defines the state (the “one” with which the song begins) and underlies its existence, and any critique only reinforces its importance. That “six million” is a definitive term for Jews is no secret. As one of several key cultural icons of the Holocaust, representing, in encapsulated, economic language or form, the entirety of the Shoah, the number six million signifies powerfully in post-­Holocaust culture. Like the Holocaust icons analyzed in the previous chapters, it functions discursively and visually; but as a symbolic number, it also expresses something beyond words and pictures. Originating in an attempt to count the dead, the number also conjures an accounting for mass murder, in all possible senses of the word—­explaining, justifying, avenging. Beginning with the historic contextualization, we may ask not only how we count the victims of the Holocaust, but who counts, and why. Some key moments in the social life of this number in Europe, Israel, and the United States point up some of the number’s symbolic meanings and applications, and may account for the number’s enduring power and iconicity as it is represented and embodied. These representations include negations and denials of the figure’s authenticity, negations and denials that serve here as additional evidence for the number’s power. These applications of “six million” as a symbolic figure touch on other symbolic numerals whose appearance and use reflect on the significance of “six million.” I discuss cases in which “six million” is inflated to “eleven million,” examples in which “six” can be read as a symbolic-­numeric distillation of “six million,” and even some ways the number “one” plays a significant role in the numeric representation of the Holocaust. Indeed, the culmination of a counting sequence beginning with the first victim (“one”) results in an historical (ac)counting of/for the total number of Jewish victims of the Shoah. Further, the subtle but not inconsequential linguistic shift from “six million” to “the six million,” from a number reached by counting to an expression signifying all Jewish victims of the Holocaust as one collective, can be seen as a representation of the number’s iconization. The essential argument of this chapter is that what matters (what ultimately counts) concerning this key figure of six million is its iconic power, derived from something beyond counting. Indeed, actually counting to six million is a grand undertaking: if I were to count at an average rate of one digit per second, it would take about 69 days to reach the number six million, without breaks or stops. This chapter is therefore

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not about the act of counting to six million but rather about the transformation of a number—­usually assumed, like all numbers, to be precise, exact, scientific—­into a symbol that points beyond itself and becomes iconic. That transformation hinges on recognizing that the number is an approximation but that its power derives from seeing that approximation as a distillation of truth transcending numeric precision, and thereby intensifies the figure’s connection to, and representation of, the Holocaust. By this process, “six million” becomes an iconic representation of the Shoah on par with other icons that embody social apprehensions of the Holocaust.

Origins “Six million,” used to represent the total number of Jewish Holocaust victims, is recognized by scholars to have originated in the International Military Tribunal of major Nazi war criminals held in Nuremberg from November 14, 1945, to October 1, 1946.3 That is, it is understood to have originated in a legal setting, in the course of the prosecution of Nazi leaders and the documentation of evidence against them; it is a “perpetrators’” number, not a “victims’” number, the outcome of attention on those who committed the crimes of the Holocaust, not their victims, which has nonetheless come to be appropriated memorially and representationally. The number arose when, on the twentieth day of the tribunal, Major William F. Walsh, one of the assistant trial counsels, cited a November 26, 1945, affidavit by SS Sturmbannfiührer (major) Wilhelm Höttl, deputy group leader in Office VI (the “international” office of the SD) of the Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheits­ hauptamt, or RSHA). Höttl had testified concerning a conversation he had had with Adolf Eichmann in Höttl’s apartment in Budapest in August 1944, in which Eichmann asked Höttl for information on the military situation. According to Höttl, Eichmann expressed his conviction that Germany had lost the war and that he personally had no further chance. He knew that he would be considered one of the main war criminals by the United Nations, since he had millions of Jewish lives on his conscience. I asked him how many that was, to which he answered that although the number was a great Reich secret, he would tell me since I, as a historian too, would be interested and that probably he would not return

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anyhow from his command in Romania. He had, shortly before that, made a report to Himmler, as the latter wanted to know the exact number of Jews who had been killed.4

Walsh had introduced Höttl’s affidavit, before reading it into evidence, by saying The Prosecution could offer this Tribunal a wealth of evidence on the total number of Jews who died by Nazi hands, but it is believed that cumulative evidence would not vary the guilt of these defendants. I do wish, however, to offer one document, a statement, to establish the deaths of 4 million Jews in camps and deaths of 2 million Jews by the State Police in the East, making a total of 6 million—­Document 2738-­PS, Exhibit USA-­296.5

Here was this “exact number,” translated from Höttl’s affidavit. In that affidavit, Höttl goes on to suggest that he thinks the figure to be about right, and that there is no reason to doubt Eichmann, especially since in his position he surely had access to correct figures. However, “Himmler was not satisfied with the report, since in his opinion the number of killed Jews had to be greater than 6  million  .  .  . [and Himmler would therefore] send a man from his Statistics Office to Eichmann so that he could compile a new report based on materials provided by Eichmann, wherein the exact number should be calculated.”6 Actually, Justice Robert H. Jackson, chief of counsel for the United States, had previously provided a more precise number. On the second day of the proceedings, in his opening statement outlining the charges of crimes against humanity, specifically speaking of crimes against the Jews, Jackson commented: The conspiracy or common plan to exterminate the Jew was so methodically and thoroughly pursued, that despite the German defeat and Nazi prostration this Nazi aim largely has succeeded. Only remnants of the European Jewish population remain in Germany, in the countries which Germany occupied, and in those which were her satellites or collaborators. Of the 9,600,000 Jews who lived in Nazi-­dominated Europe, 60 percent are authoritatively estimated to have perished. Five million seven hundred thousand Jews are missing from the countries in which they formerly lived, and over 4,500,000 cannot

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be accounted for by the normal death rate nor by immigration; nor are they included among displaced persons.7

Jackson’s number is 5.7  million, or 60  percent of 9.6  million (which would be 5.76 million) rounded down—­those “authoritatively estimated” to have been murdered, “missing” from Europe as if spirited away by some alien force. He clarifies his accusation by citing the “over” 4.5 million persons whose disappearance cannot be explained by natural or earthly means. In the course of the trial, Eichmann is credited with an alternative number, this time by SS Captain Dieter Wisliceny, under questioning by Lt. Col. Smith W. Brookhart, assistant counsel for the United States at the tribunal, who asked Wisliceny on January 3, 1946, the twenty-­sixth day of the tribunal, about the total number of Jews murdered: Eichmann personally always talked about at least 4 million Jews. Sometimes he even mentioned 5 million. According to my own estimate, I should say that at least 4 million must have been destined for the so-­called final solution. How many of those actually survived, I am not in a position to say. LT. COL. BROOKHART:  When did you last see Eichmann? WISLICENY:  I last saw Eichmann towards the end of February 1945 in Berlin. At that time he said that if the war were lost he would commit suicide. LT. COL. BROOKHART:  Did he say anything at that time as to the number of Jews that had been killed? WISLICENY:  Yes, he expressed this in a particularly cynical manner. He said he would leap laughing into the grave because the feeling that he had 5 million people on his conscience would be for him a source of extraordinary satisfaction.8 WISLICENY: 

It is this number of five million that Eichmann himself stuck to when he was finally asked at his own trial in Jerusalem in 1961.9 But it is the higher approximation of six million that received more play in the Nuremberg tribunal. The number appears again in the prosecution’s summation on the morning of July 26, 1946, in which Justice Robert H. Jackson presented his closing argument, outlining five groups of crimes supporting the

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conspiracy charge against the defendants; the fifth being “Persecution and Extermination of Jews and Christians”: Adolf Eichmann, the sinister figure who had charge of the extermination program, has estimated that the anti-­Jewish activities resulted in the killing of 6 million Jews. Of these, 4 million were killed in extermination institutions, and 2 million were killed by Einsatzgruppen, mobile units of the Security Police and SD which pursued Jews in the ghettos and in their homes and slaughtered them by gas wagons, by mass shooting in antitank ditches and by every device which Nazi ingenuity could conceive. So thorough and uncompromising was this program that the Jews of Europe as a race no longer exist, thus fulfilling the diabolic “prophecy” of Adolf Hitler at the beginning of the war. (2738-­PS)10

In the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, then, the “six million” figure originates in a sworn written statement by a witness reporting on what he had heard from Eichmann in August 1944, entered into evidence in a groundbreaking and monumental set of legal proceedings committed to historical documentation. Two things strike me about this origin narrative of the “six million” figure: that it defines the top end of a range of estimated total Jewish victims (from five to six million—­the range that continues to be cited up to the present day), and that its basis is not sworn trial testimony but, essentially, hearsay. Nonetheless, probably because of its alleged source, and despite the fact that other total figures were cited, it quickly became the figure used to tally Jewish victims. Ironically, because the number is sourced in the Nazi leadership, it carries a certain authenticity. But even more interesting is that it was about right, though this has been acknowledged only more recently, as a result of data gleaned from previously unknown or inaccessible Soviet-­era archives and sources.11 But the Nuremberg trials were not the first time the number was mentioned. The December  17, 1944, issue of Pravda included an article by Soviet journalist Ilya Ehrenburg that cited the number.12 Page 17 of the January 8, 1945, edition of the New York Times carried a short article with the headline, “6,000,000 Jews Dead.” The article credits the estimated death toll to Jacob Lestchinsky, “exiled economist and newspaper man,” in an address he had made to the Yiddish Scientific Institute at its annual conference, in which Lestchinsky estimated that the 1939 Jewish European population of 9,500,000 had been reduced to 3,500,000. Jewish emissary Joel

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Brand is reported to have used the six million number in June 1944 (predating even the Höttl affidavit’s early reference to the figure) in his meeting with the Jewish Agency’s Moshe Shertok during controversial negotiations over the proposed exchange of one million Hungarian Jews for ten thousand trucks and other materials desperately needed by the Nazis (the so-­ called “blood for goods” plan).13 And in an eerie foreshadowing of the ultimate toll of Nazi eliminationist objectives, a short article in the Sunday Times of London, England, in early 1943 cites a statement by the Anglican Episcopate urging the British government to give refuge to Jews “from Axis lands,” noting “that the victims of this policy of extermination are already reckoned in hundreds of thousands, and that the carrying out of Hitler’s oft-­repeated intention means in effect the extermination of some 6,000,000 people.” The article does not say how it came to this figure, nor does it specify six million Jews would be murdered, but it is remarkable nonetheless in its prescience.14 Indeed, after late 1942 the magnitude of the impending Holocaust was becoming increasingly clear: Laurel Leff notes, “Most scholars agree that the truth of the Holocaust was established when the 11 Allied governments confirmed the Final Solution in December 1942.”15 A measure of this growing awareness is recorded in newspaper articles and editorials that not only address and decry Nazi policies but also engage in broad numeric estimations. For example, in concert with a day of mourning called by Jewish organizations, the New York Times published a lengthy editorial on December 2, 1942, declaring, “[I]t is believed that 2,000,000 European Jews have perished and that 5,000,000 are in danger of extermination.”16 The total estimated number of Jewish Holocaust victims continues to range between five and six million. The late Raul Hilberg, for example, political scientist and widely acknowledged dean of Holocaust historiography, estimated 5.1  million Jewish victims, and that number did not change in the third edition of his monumental work. This indicates, one might presume, that he was satisfied with his rigorous investigation into this figure.17 The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust offers a number of “more than” five million in its definition of the Holocaust.18 In 2007 the Division of the Senior Historian at the USHMM developed a series of estimates (dependent on means of counting) of between 5.65 million and 5.93 million, based on published accounts by Hilberg and others as well as on Soviet documents available only since 1991.19 No estimate has gone higher than six million. It may be, as Hilberg notes in his essay “The

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Statistic” (which discusses methods of arriving at the number of Jewish victims, under the subtitles “adding,” “subtracting,” and “recapitulation”), that “exactness is impossible.” Some may find this assertion disturbing, particularly those whose association with the figure is primarily political, social, or cultural—­who are not regularly engaged with the scholarly and scientific assessment of the numbers and who may expect precision—­but the fact remains that six million is the figure that has established itself in public consciousness. So, while the figure of six million appears to be an upper limit for these calculations and is not the number agreed upon by many scholars, it nonetheless is the tally that has endured for nearly seventy years. It is both a ceiling on the calculation of the total number of Jewish Holocaust victims and a lasting approximation of that number, and it has assumed a life of its own. In contrast to Hilberg’s figure, which, because not round, cannot easily assume a symbolic function, and also against an alternative round number like “five million,” which has never gained much traction as an agreed-­upon representative tally despite its simplicity, the number six million has attained iconic status. Interestingly, Hilberg himself alludes (see the epigraph to this chapter), if not to numeric symbolism outright, then at least to the significance of arriving at a “single number” that, essentially, summarizes the Holocaust—­the significance, that is, of determining an iconic number. Ironically, given this quest for numeric singularity, his essay was published in a collection titled Unanswered Questions, whose editor convened a colloquium of noted historians because “the time had come for summing up the ‘state of the question,’” and who expressed the hope that, were his volume to help “account for [the mystery of Nazism], in the fullest sense of the term—­that is, to work out possible explications for the questions it raises—­it will have fulfilled its aim.”20 The volume is, in fact, permeated with answers like Hilberg’s to the questions it poses.

Quantifying Revenge It is clear that, certainly by the end of 1945, and likely a year or more earlier, the figure six million had become established as the definitive number signifying the Nazi destruction of European Jewry. This number had been pronounced at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, but it had also appeared elsewhere. Tom Segev, in The Seventh Million: The Israelis

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and the Holocaust, and Berel Lang, in “Holocaust Memory and Revenge,” recount a fascinating and disturbing episode during this era that sheds light on the powerful symbolic potential of “six million” while also depicting its deep resonance among at least some survivors; the episode is all the more fascinating because it indicates an awareness of the “six million” figure and its power prior to the presentation of the IMT evidence. The story begins in Lublin, where a group of up to sixty survivors, all resistance fighters, met in February 1945 to plan their next move; before the war all had been members of Zionist youth movements, and all now set their sights on emigration to Palestine. But, led by Abba Kovner, former Vilna partisan leader and “a living symbol of Jewish resistance to the Nazis, a spiritual and moral authority,”21 they first formed the “Revenge Group” (Irgun ha-­Nakam), adopting “the [Hebrew] acronym DIN ( Judgment), based on the first letters of Dam Yisrael Noter (the blood of Israel avenges),” delaying Aliyah in order to extract revenge from their tormentors.22 Owing to the collective nature of Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis, the group’s aim was collective revenge; their “Plan A proposed placing members of the Group among the sewage and water plant workers in four German cities—­ Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, and Nuremberg.  .  .  . to poison the cities’ water supply.”23 To support this objective, Kovner traveled to Palestine in 1945 to secure the support of the nascent Jewish government there—­the Yishuv—­“hop[ing] to murder six million Germans.”24 Indeed, Segev suggests that the desire for vengeance consumed Holocaust survivors at this time and cites an unpublished study of Aliyat Hanoar (Youth Aliya, or immigration) graduates that found that, “years later, eight out of ten young survivors recalled that at war’s end they longed for vengeance: no other emotion was so widespread among them—­not agony nor anxiety, happiness nor hope.”25 Kovner later described the feeling as interfering with the ability to get on with normal life, “to get up in the morning and work as if accounts with the Germans had been settled”; Segev suggests therefore that the plan for revenge was “an accounting between two nations. To be true revenge it had to precisely equal the dimensions of the crime. Kovner therefore set six million German citizens as his goal. He thought in apocalyptic terms: revenge was a holy obligation that would redeem and purify the Jewish people.”26 In a literalistic and chilling application of the “eye for an eye” proposition, Kovner would exact revenge exactly, reifying the “six million” figure and transforming it into a blueprint for action, expressing the desire for revenge in the language of numeric precision.

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Thankfully, this settling of accounts was not to be. One reason why Kovner’s plan failed was that it found little support among the organized Yishuv leadership; David Ben-­Gurion took little time to dissuade one of Kovner’s associates from the plan: “Revenge in history is a very important thing indeed, but if we could bring back six million Jews, rather than kill six million Germans—­this would be even more important.” . . . The revenge fantasies of the Holocaust survivors belonged, like the Holocaust itself, to a different, very foreign world. The death of millions of Germans could not advance the Zionist struggle. On the contrary, . . . the revenge operation was likely to harm the Jewish Agency’s efforts to create goodwill and support for its major goal—­the establishment of the state.27

Note however that, though Ben-­ Gurion rejected Kovner’s audacious proposal, his own “positively oriented revenge” was also founded in the symbolism of “six million” as the basis for immediate post-­Holocaust accounting. In this calculus, the State of Israel was conceptualized as a response to the six million victims, though not in the guise of an avenging angel come to settle a score. Although Berel Lang suggests that “The most notable aspect of the place of revenge in the aftermath of the Shoah is its absence—­both as a topic of discussion and, before that, in its occurrence,”28 coining the phrase “displacement effect” to describe the “appearance of revenge in other guises” to account for its rarity, he does not suggest that the State of Israel itself represents such transferred revenge. I would maintain, however, that it does. And thus, to stretch the implications of the Kovner plan a bit further, it also failed because it was too literal: a one-­for-­one exchange as the antithesis of symbolism. Any nascent Israeli approach to represent and symbolize the “six million” would have to be, and has been, more rhetorical and political, collective and national. For example, Segev cites the 1947 testimony of Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Levin, leader of Agudat Yisrael, before the United Nations commission whose recommendation led to the partition plan for Palestine: “Six million Jewish souls are standing and crying out before you. . . . Their blood is churning and will not be silent.” He also cites Dov Shilansky, Holocaust survivor and former speaker of the Israeli Knesset (parliament), who was tried and convicted for attempting to set off a suitcase bomb at the Israeli Foreign Ministry as a protest against a reparations

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agreement with Germany, who testified in 1952 that “[s]ix million skeletons” had accompanied him in the attempted attack.29 Indeed, the continuing influence of the past on the present in a national context is a key component of Segev’s argument and the reason for his book’s title: “Just as the Holocaust imposed a posthumous collective identity on its six million victims, so too it formed the collective identity of this new country—­not just for the survivors who came after the war but for all Israelis, then and now.”30 It is due to the collectivization of the six million victims and the continuing impact of that composite persona that Segev can conceive of a “seventh” million in postwar Israel, which depends on, and thus serves to further enhance, the iconic value of the “six million.” The cultural awareness of “six million” as representative and symbolic did not only immigrate to Palestine. As early as 1946, the number was cited in a proposal to establish a memorial in New York City, an eternal flame paying tribute to the “Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Six Million Jews Slain by the Nazis.”31 And it figured prominently in a poem by American Communist Fred Blair, “The Ashes of Six Million Jews,” a bitter catalog of Nazi atrocities and condemnations of bystanders’ inaction, written in fourteen rhyming stanzas with the recurring titular refrain, culminating in the wish for a socialist utopia that would do away with the root causes of the Holocaust.32 Jews in the Displaced Persons’ (DP) camps in Europe also acknowledged the figure’s importance in authorizing, as it were, several efforts to document the horrors from which they had only recently emerged. As noted in the example of Abba Kovner, survivor agency—­the ability to act independently and control one’s own activities—­is an additional salient factor in invoking the memory of six million murdered coreligionists. Laura Jockusch, surveying the historiographic literature on the She’erit Hapletah—­the “surviving remnant”—­notes that such “research has begun to show that the survivors were not a demoralized, defeated, passive, and monolithic mass dependent on the Allied armies and international aid agencies, but rather were active players who on their own initiatives rebuilt their communities, reestablished their political representation, and built up a rich organizational and cultural life.”33 In late 1945, twelve survivors formed an historical commission in Munich, at the time the “center of postwar Jewish life in the American Zone”; this was the core of the Central Historical Commission that constituted itself in September 1946 to supervise and coordinate the collection of materials on the Jewish experience under Nazism—­an experience that was not

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yet known as the Holocaust. “The survivors’ sense that they had an obligation to fulfill a ‘holy duty’ to the dead and the generations to come and that documenting the past was ‘holy work’ appears to have been a major motivation for commission workers. They also understood the documentation project as a symbolic ‘gravestone,’ ‘memorial,’ or ‘monument’ to those who had been murdered and had not received a proper burial.”34 But it was not always easy for the commission to collect material: among other challenges, it competed with other organizations and activities for survivors’ time and attention, which in addition was not comfortably oriented toward the painful recent past. The commission therefore embarked on a public relations campaign through contests, leaflets, posters, and personal appeals, reminding survivors that, since “the Nazis had made it virtually impossible for Jews to record events as they unfolded,” it was imperative to record them now, lest future generations have no understanding of what they endured.35 In this respect, “six million” served as a reference point. Two official posters could be seen throughout the American Zone in survivor-­related offices; they were the first-­and second-­place winners of a spring 1947 contest initiated by the Central Historical Commission. The runner-­up, by P. Shuldenreyn, quotes from the Hebrew Bible, “Remember what Amalek did to you,” naming what many interpret as the eternal enemy of Jews and Judaism, notorious for brazenly attacking, without fear of divine retribution, the weak at the rear of the exhausted Israelite camp as it escaped slavery in Egypt (an apt metaphor for the She’erit Hapletah) in the Exodus narrative. The quotation is fitting for these survivors, many of them Zionists, because, as the subsequent verses from Deuteronomy emphasize, once the people of Israel receive respite from their enemies in their divinely mandated territorial inheritance, they are instructed to “blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven” and commanded not to forget.36 The center of the poster features the hands of a clock (signifying, perhaps, the urgency of the task at hand) against a background of textual and visual references to past mythic and historical episodes of Jewish cataclysm (the Egyptian bondage, the destruction of the Temples, the Chmielnicki Pogroms, and the Spanish Expulsion); the hour hand points to the admonition in Yiddish to “Collect and Record.” Underneath this exhortation, the pages of a new chronicle of murder and oppression, yet to be filled in but destined to join those depicted above it, are faintly branded with the number “6000000.”37 “Both posters represented the Jewish past as a

FIGURE 40.   “Remember what Amalek did to Thee! Collect and Record!” Central Historical

Commission, Munich, US Zone of Germany, 1947 (M.1.P/685). Courtesy of Yad Vashem Photo Archive, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

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FIGURE 41.   Cloth banner in Yiddish from the DP camps. The text reads, “Jews! Do not forget the victims among the Jewish people. Your participation in the unveiling of the memorial stones honors all 6,000,000 Jewish martyrs.” Courtesy of Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

timeless cycle of atrocities that linked the Amalekites’ smiting of the Jewish people to the Holocaust—­the last link in a long chain of Jewish suffering. Yet by suggesting that Jews had always overcome collective suffering by recording the events, the poster exhorted survivors to fulfill their duty with respect to the most recent catastrophe.”38 There were other exhortations: an undated cloth banner created and used in memorial ceremonies in the DP camps hangs in Yad Vashem’s museum, illustrating the social activism and commitment among survivors in the postwar environment as they engaged in memorial ceremonies while rebuilding their lives. This banner marries the numerical icon “6,000,000” to the ritual unveiling of memorial tombstones (matzevot) in honor of Jews so recently killed, showing unequivocally that mass murder was being commemorated. Unlike the richly detailed and stylized competition poster, which reflects the resurgence of graphic arts and print culture in the DP camps, the banner displays a more vernacular, grassroots culture of public demonstration and communal ritual; it is not quite known what the ceremony for which the latter was used looked like, but clearly its message was emphatically communicated. Whereas the poster was likely printed in multiple copies and disseminated widely, reminding Jews of their civic historical duty, the banner was a singular cry and appealed to survivors’ civic memorial duty. Each version of remembrance represents a different kind of revenge and shows how quickly the number “six million” had become canonical in multiple locations.

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The Six Million What is the “posthumous collective identity” that Segev identifies of Jews murdered in the Holocaust? This “identity” has taken various forms: the “six million” have been described as victims, martyrs (whether they knew it or not), “lambs to the slaughter,” and, more recently, as resisters, often of a spiritual kind; they have even been retroactively posited as Zionists, through a proposal to grant Holocaust victims honorary Israeli citizenship.39 All of these characterizations serve to engender a posthumous coherence, defining a group that coalesces in the postwar period despite the fact that, before and during the war, no such coherence had occurred. This is a byproduct not only of the desire for a single number that expresses the outcome of a process of counting/accounting, but also of a social process that is grappling with issues of meaning as well, an end product of which is a community of memory that defines itself, in part, in reference to that singular statistic. The rhetorical-­political application of “six million” abounds in Israel in the 1950s, especially in debates over German reparations (one more area in which suffering and loss are quantified). But it arguably reached its peak in 1961 in attorney general Gideon Hausner’s opening statement in the Eichmann trial: As I stand before you, judges of Israel to lead the prosecution of Adolf Eichmann, I am not standing alone. With me are six million accusers. But they cannot rise to their feet to point an accusing finger toward the glass booth and cry out at the man sitting there, “I accuse.” For their ashes are piled up on the hills of Auschwitz and the fields of Treblinka, washed by the rivers of Poland, and their graves are scattered the length and breadth of Europe. Their blood cries out, but their voices cannot be heard. I, therefore, will be their spokesman and will pronounce, in their names, this awesome indictment.40

Hausner, the sole accuser, here purports to embody all six million of the victims that cannot speak, thereby pointing a collective, singular finger at Eichmann. Hausner’s rhetorical flourish recalls Primo Levi’s articulation of the “drowned,” the “true witnesses” who cannot speak because they were murdered, and for whom the writer and memoirist must try to speak vicariously, despite the impossibility of really doing so.41 Even Hausner’s echo of God’s accusation against Cain in Genesis 4:10, typically rendered as “the voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground,” subtly supports the

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rhetorical reduction of six million victims into one. Daniel Mendelsohn points out that the grammar of the Hebrew original is contradictory, because “voice” is singular while “blood” and “cry out” are rendered in the plural, a problem most translators simply ignore;42 a more accurate translation might read “the voice of your brother’s bloods—­they cry out to me [God] from the ground.” The grammatical implication in the biblical case would be that the multitude of “bloods” and “cries” coalesce—­congeal—­ into one singular voice. Hausner reverses the grammar in his biblical allusion (singular “blood” and plural “voices”) but maintains the coalescence into a sole speaking voice, his own. The rhetorical flourish embodied in Hausner’s famous accusation, as he personally stands in for the victims, personifies the figure six million. As such, it anticipates a conversion of the number indicating a multiplicity of victims into a condensed expression of their ultimate unity through a symbolic phrase: “the six million.” It is possible to see the transformation of “six million” into “the six million” in early responses to the Holocaust in the United States. This also presents a comparative framework for analysis because, due to the absence of a Jewish nationalistic platform, there has been less identification with the six million victims in the United States. Nonetheless, the figure also became iconic here, perhaps owing to the geographic distance from the events of World War II and the concomitant necessity of defining “the Holocaust” in accessible, human terms: “six million” as an iconic representation of the Shoah becomes even more socially necessary in a country less directly affected by Jewish losses, offering a convenient handle on the magnitude of those losses for a population needing more mediation and explication. Hasia Diner’s groundbreaking book, We Remember with Reverence and Love, for example, proves, contrary to previously accepted scholarly opinion, that the Holocaust was indeed discussed and present in American Jewish consciousness from the immediate postwar era all the way through the Eichmann trial, Hannah Arendt’s book on the Holocaust, and the Six-­Day War. But Diner’s research also implies that there was no debate over the figure of “six million”—­that it was already a given in memorial discourse. While researching this chapter, I actually lost count of the times Diner or those she cites invoke “the six million” in the course of analysis, and it is clear that, in multiple ways, the number was immediately seized upon within the Jewish community as a vehicle for remembrance. A key component of this memorial construction is the “the” of “the six million”; preceded by a definite article, the symbolic number “six million,” understood

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as an expression of counting (and accounting for) the total number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust, also became something more: a figure invested with significance, defined by its specificity, particularity, and iconic power.43 I shall cite two early examples of the iconic use of “the six million” discussed by Diner. The first links back to the Israeli memorial-­political context, in which, in the late 1940s, the Jewish National Fund proposed the planting of six million trees in a “Martyr’s Forest” in the hills around Jerusalem. In a Jewish National Fund letter sent from the New York office, the JNF attempted to engage American Jewry in the arboreal commemoration of “six million Jews who perished in Europe.”44 Financial support was solicited, attempting to link, through Holocaust memorialization, American Jews to Israeli nation-­building and land reclamation. Donors received certificates that thanked them for their assistance in establishing “a living monument to the 6,000,000 martyrs” in which the spirits of the murdered Jews would “forever dwell,”45 making the proposed forest a symbolic graveyard for those who had no graves, much like the memorial tombstones established in the DP camps. The second example dates to 1952, when the American Jewish Congress had convened and charged a committee to compose a ceremonial Passover text. The result, the “Seder Ritual of Remembrance for the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis and for the heroes of the Ghetto uprisings,” simultaneously looks backward and forward, firmly situating commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust in public and private Passover observance. The text inserts “the six million” into the grand mythic-­ historical sweep of Jewish religious experience and persecution since Pharaoh, linking past motifs of divine redemption implied in the Passover setting with self-­redemption (and martyrdom) in the ancient Maccabean revolt and the recent Warsaw Ghetto uprising (and anticipating the Israeli insertion of Holocaust commemoration into the Jewish calendar in proximity to Passover).46 Through this insertion, the text connects “the six million” and these past salvations to the promise of redemption and a future messianic age, through communal singing of “Ani Ma’amin,” a Jewish affirmation of patient belief in the coming of the Messiah. This creed, based on the twelfth of Maimonides’ thirteen articles of faith, set to music (score provided) in a slow, haunting cadence, was composed and sung by Azriel David Fastag, a hasid (follower) of the Modzitz Rebbe, the leader of the

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Hasidic dynasty of Modzitz, in Poland, reportedly in the railway car on the way to his death in Treblinka. According to the story, well known in Hasidic circles, Fastag asked anyone who was willing to try to escape the transport to bring the melody to his rebbe, who had been smuggled out of Europe by his devotees and was living in the United States: two young men attempted to jump from the train; one succeeded and delivered the message; the melody spread and was reportedly sung by Holocaust victims even on the way to the gas chambers.47

Distilling Six Million into Six The commemorative use of the number six million is limited, however, even when personified in the phrase “the six million,” which is only effective rhetorically. To actually represent the figure numerically is impractical. This might be why, early in its use, the number six million was also being compressed iconically into the number “six” in the context of Holocaust remembrance. This distillation has the additional effect of marking an intensification in symbolization due to its greater memorial applicability and flexibility. In fact, it is possible that the use of the number six predates the use of the number six million, or at least has independent origins. Lucia Ruedenberg cites an early example, just prior to the national day of mourning on December 2, 1942, observed by Jews and non-­Jews in twenty-­nine countries: on November 29, 1942, during a “week of mourning” in Jerusalem, four hundred rabbis including European refugees participated in a procession to the Western Wall, tearing their garments as a sign of mourning, reciting psalms and a series of prayers, while thousands of candles were lit and a shofar was blown six times.48 That is, even prior to the earliest date by which anyone could have known the final outcome of the “Final Solution,” the number six was being employed as a ritual-­memorial device. As Ruedenberg argues, “The figure ‘six’ is a sacred symbol in Jewish culture, of undetermined origin and long history.”49 But it was the Warsaw Ghetto uprising that emerged as the primary symbol and basis for early American Holocaust commemoration, becoming “the prism through which American Jews performed the memory of the six million.”50 In 1948 in New York, the newly formed Congress for Jewish Culture “issued a call for Jews throughout the world to observe a ‘Yizkor’ Day on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising [April 19, 1943]. Six

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lights were kindled in memory of the six million martyred dead at a ceremony attended by 3000 people at Carnegie Hall.”51 In the Yiddish-­English flyer advertising the 1951 ceremony the group not only invited the public to “Light 6 Candles in Memory of the 6 Million Martyrs,” but also noted that “Every Jewish home, every Jewish organization and all schools should light six candles as a symbol of our deep sorrow and mourning.”52 Indeed, as we observed in the AJC’s “Seder Ritual of Remembrance,” the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was a key component in bringing Holocaust remembrance and Passover together (that the uprising began during Passover in 1943 was also a key reason), linking catastrophe and redemption and making Jewish resistance a focal point of memorialization. Diner argues that “Passover as a time to remember the six million pervaded postwar American Jewish culture,” and that “the reality that many American Jews annually confronted the Holocaust through the image of the Warsaw Ghetto as invoked in their home and community Passover sedarim set the stage for yearly Warsaw Ghetto memorial programs held in communities around the country.”53 One group, for example, the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization (WAGRO), founded in 1963 by survivors of Warsaw living in New York, dedicated itself to commemorating the “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Six Million Jewish Martyrs.”54 The typical program for the memorial ceremonies, sponsored by a wide range of organizations, actually varied little—­and still dominates the format of Holocaust commemoration ceremonies to this day; it regularly included “the lighting of six candles, often by Jews who had lived through the catastrophe.”55 For example, WAGRO’s overflowing ceremony at Temple Emanu-­El in New York City in 1972 (the first time the group had held its annual event at the prestigious synagogue) featured the following activities, between the invocation and a series of speeches: “Women survivors of the Holocaust lit six large banks of memorial candles that framed the Torah ark, while Sidor Belarsky sang ‘Ani Ma’amin.’ There was a memorial candle progression by children of New York Jewish schools. Six tall candles were lit by six survivors.”56 This now ubiquitous performance not only introduced a new ritual-­cultural mechanism for Holocaust remembrance, but also translated the already iconic “six million,” meant to represent the totality of Jewish Holocaust victims, into a more purely symbolic figure that transcended the implied narrative focus of a Warsaw Ghetto uprising commemoration specifically on armed resistance: “Programs pivoted around the symbolic use of the number six, embodied in the six candles, culminating in the dirges

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over all of the six million. . . . The widespread use of the number six in conjunction with Warsaw Ghetto memorial programs made it clear that the victims as a collectivity, rather than heroes and fighters, served as the real subject of the commemorations.”57 It is significant, I think, that the number six is also much easier to invoke practically, evoke artistically, and imagine symbolically than six million. This malleability leads to a wide range of applications. From the reduction of an almost unimaginable number into something more manageable, it is only a small step to the six points of a Magen David, a hexagonal floor tile, or other renditions of the number six that some might cite as evidence for the symbolic importance of six. Particularly in the case of the six-­pointed “star of David,” which has come to be regarded as the paradigmatic Jewish symbol, one with its own relationship to the Holocaust, we can make a powerful connection between the reduction of Holocaust millions into one symbolic number and the ubiquitous symbol for Jews and Jewishness, as I discussed in the introduction to this volume. However, it is debatable whether, once linked conceptually, the number six and the Magen David refer adequately, without interpretation and elaboration of the context in which they are employed, to the six million murdered.58 Rather, what this relationship shows is how, once the iconic significance of the number six in relation to “the six million” has been established, as in commemorative performances in which survivors light six candles to represent the six million dead, conceptual and material associations to the number six can be and are made to enhance the number’s iconicity.

Counting to Six Million (or Not) There is no question that “six million” is the iconic figure representing the total number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It is clear that this number received widespread recognition shortly after the end of World War II and that it had cultural and social significance. How far its iconicity extends memorially can be explored in the case of the Whitwell, Tennessee, Middle School paper clips project. This experiment in Holocaust remembrance reembodies, to mixed results, the figure “six million.” In this case, a parent in this rural, nearly all-­white town of sixteen hundred persons near Chattanooga proposed, in the spring of 1998, that the middle school begin teaching about diversity. Linda Hooper, the principal, at the

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urging of David Smith, the vice principal and football coach, began preparing a voluntary after-­school course on the Holocaust “and the roots of intolerance.”59 Sixteen students enrolled in the class, taught by Sandra Roberts, the eighth-­grade language arts teacher.60 As a way for the class to grasp the notion “six million,” the students began collecting paper clips, since they had “learned from the Internet—­inaccurately—­that non-­Jewish Norwegians subtly protested the rounding up and deportation of their Jewish neighbors by wearing paper clips, which Norwegians mythologize—­also inaccurately—­as their own invention.”61 Ironically, the students were collecting items that are themselves banal symbols of bureaucracy in order to try to represent the quantified evil of the Shoah, itself the culmination of modern bureaucracy.62 The project got off to a slow start, and, though the students wrote letters to famous people asking for help and received many responses, they began to realize they might never reach their goal. Coach Smith, now an adviser to the class, established a website for the project to help publicize it: “‘Please help us,’ it said. ‘We are collecting paper clips. Each one will represent a victim of the Holocaust. As soon as we have six million, we will make a monument.’” But by the end of the year, they had received only 160,000 paper clips. “The students did the math and found that at this rate, it would take 37.5 years to reach their goal. ‘We will never understand what six million victims really means,’ one student said sadly.’”63 In the fall of 1999, journalists Peter and Dagmar Schroeder, White House correspondents for several German newspapers, saw the website and publicized the project in Germany; in 2001, the project received some national publicity following an article in the Washington Post that was picked up by other media outlets.64 Soon so many letters and packages arrived at the Whitwell post office that Smith had to pick them up himself; parents began volunteering at the school to count paper clips just to keep up.65 Hooper, Smith, Roberts, and the Schroeders had already begun planning the memorial to house the paper clips: students had initially wanted to melt them down and create a sculpture but then realized, in light of the burning of Jewish bodies in Holocaust crematories, that this manner of memorialization would not be appropriate. The adults had decided to secure “an original German railcar” for the memorial, and the Schroeders set about locating one in early 2001, finally obtaining one from a small railroad museum in Ganzlin, north of Berlin.66 Whitwell’s Children’s Holocaust Memorial opened on November  9, 2001, to great fanfare, with a

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ceremony marked by speeches, music, and prayers from a range of religious denominations, including the recitation of kaddish by students from an Atlanta Jewish day school. Visitors walked through the railcar memorial fitted with glass panels, so that they could see the paper clips housed in it, “a symbolic resting place for millions of victims who have no graves.”67 Although many have been quick to dismiss the project as simplistic and undeserving of serious attention, scholars like Daniel Magilow, as well as numerous viewers of the 2004 film documenting the enterprise, would disagree. Magilow, in his insightful article, “Counting to Six Million: Collecting Projects and Holocaust Memorialization,” sees the Whitwell example as emblematic of a trend in Holocaust memory. Magilow maintains that projects like it, which collect six million of an item as a vehicle for teaching about the Holocaust, collectively represent a new memorial form that emphasizes play and process over work and final product. “In this new mode of memorialization, two obsessions have converged. The obsessive childhood tendency to gather, arrange, and play with stamps, coins, rocks, or other objects has been redirected to the Holocaust, an event whose grip on the American public imagination has itself become obsessive.”68 Critics complain that such projects trivialize the Holocaust, noting that people are not and should not be identified with objects, while supporters claim that such projects are transformative, teach tolerance, and build community. “The discomfort with memorial projects arises from an inability to reconcile the radical incongruity between a profane signifier (a button, a penny, or a paper clip) and a sacred signified (the victims of genocide). Whereas from the collector’s standpoint, the relationship honors victims, to the outsider it can appear arbitrary, improper, and even blasphemous.”69 What is key, however, is that in all these cases it is the number six million that has itself become the iconic sign to be embodied through the act of collecting. A key impetus for such collecting projects is the difficulty of imagining, or even actually counting to, six million. It is that initial problem of comprehension that becomes the catalyst for memorialization; collectors like the students in Whitwell attempted to grasp the meaning of “six million” while simultaneously working toward it (and, in Whitwell, then exceeded it). In this respect the significance of “six million” (and “six”) as numerical memorial icons increases, because socially and culturally we believe numbers can express concepts clearly, scientifically, and succinctly. At the same time, the technical challenge of actually counting to six million objects limits our ability to fully comprehend the victimhood of the Holocaust

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in a concrete manner. That limiting function makes the number into a transcendent, quasi-­mystical figure—­an icon—­so long as it remains out of reach. As an iconic number it points to the enormous scale of the Holocaust’s victims while highlighting the impossibility of directly and fully comprehending the number. Where Magilow finds the value of such projects is in the process of trying to attain that goal and that comprehension, a process he sees as social, public, and truly collective memorialization centered on a mass of objects deemed significant because they are not actual relics, and made symbolic through interactive play and numeric value. So long as these objects, such as the paper clips, serve as media of memorialization, they remain valuable, not trivial. But two aspects of such collection projects are troubling. First, whether the goal of six million is achieved and collecting ceases, or whether, as in the case in Whitwell, where the collection surpassed its original goal (reaching nearly 30 million)70 and continues to this day, the accumulated mass of material objects recalls Nazi techniques. At this point, it seems that such collecting projects do indeed recapitulate the Nazi objectification and dehumanization of Jews—­the plunder of their sacred ritual objects, the amassing of their living bodies in ghettos and camps and of their corpses in mass graves, and, especially, the collection and commodification of their material belongings and even bodily remnants, such as hair, immediately prior to and following their murder—­all, needless to say, without attention to numeric order and precision, and often without sufficient accounting of or for the items. Second, the problem in the realization of the collecting goal is exacerbated by the housing of the collection in a restored European railway car of a type used in Nazi deportations of Jews (the same type most commonly found in Holocaust memorial settings), because here the abstract quality of the paper clip as everyday object not directly associated with Jewish victimhood (despite Whitwell students’ beliefs to the contrary) is at once made concrete and made, after all, to represent Jews, packed like so many objects into a railcar. It is a jarring juxtaposition of symbols: an unmoored and largely empty signifier like the paper clip, drafted into service to represent Jews through multiplication and the mediation of the number six million, combined with the very concrete symbol of the Holocaust-­era railway car, which serves as an icon of deportation and, through association and emplacement, of the Shoah as a whole. I suppose one cannot blame the Whitwell team for seizing upon the iconic value of the railway car as

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a container for their memory project, but its use in this case only reinforces the uneasy association made at this Children’s Holocaust Memorial between banal objects and Jews.

Challenging Memories Or rather, Jews and other victims: for the final memorial collection, the Whitwell, Tennessee, project’s participants decided to amass eleven million rather than six million paper clips.71 This attempt to make Holocaust memory more inclusive only serves to further trivialize the overall collecting, counting, and memorial efforts, and erases the iconic meaning of the collection itself, since “eleven million” is not representative of anything more than a desire for relevance—­and it might represent something far worse. As historian Deborah Lipstadt, in The Eichmann Trial, has noted, Simon Wiesenthal was responsible for conjuring out of thin air this alternative-­arithmetic reckoning of the Shoah’s victims—­eleven million, comprising six million Jews and five million others, a composite number that is too high to represent the total number of Nazi murder victims, whether Jewish or non-­Jewish, and too low to include all victims, direct and indirect, of the Nazi regime—­in order to make the Holocaust more universal and inclusive while maintaining Jewish numerical primacy.72 Ruedenberg cites a personal communication with Hirsch Altusky, one of the founders of WAGRO, who noted the group’s “big argument with Mr. Wiesenthal a few years back, in 1981. You see at that time we wanted to go up very strong against him. He was the one who introduced the eleven million instead of six. For his purposes the Holocaust was not just the six million [and Wiesenthal’s] was not the right attitude.”73 Wiesenthal was concerned that the “six million” alone would not be sufficient to move non-­Jews and mobilize their involvement in remembrance; Ruedenberg suggests that Wiesenthal’s views influenced the debates within the President’s Commission on the Holocaust about the parameters of national memorialization of the Shoah. It is certainly the case that, at 1979’s inaugural national Days of Remembrance observance in the Capitol Rotunda, President Jimmy Carter counted “six million Jews and five million others” murdered in the Holocaust,74 thus lending the figure quasi-­official status. This “‘11 million’ formula . . . is a key slogan in the denial of the uniqueness of the Jewish experience,” historian Yehuda Bauer argues, and he criticizes Carter for failing to acknowledge

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this in his declaration: during World War II Jews were “murdered by their enemies. Today, Jews are in danger of having their specific martyrdom as Jews obliterated by their friends,” Bauer writes.75 As the Whitwell case attests, this “eleven million”—­a numerical icon of a very different sort, we should note—­continues to have a life of its own, with its own ritual candle-­ lighting and other representations, alongside and in some cases supplanting the figure of six million. This is not the only numerical-­memorial challenge to the iconic power of “six million.” As Geneviève Zubrzycki has noted, in Poland, the number six million more likely refers to the total number of Polish losses during World War II, which includes almost the entirety of the Jewish Polish population and a nearly equal number of non-­Jewish Poles. “The number of Polish citizens who perished during World War  II (six million) and the number of European Jews killed during that period (six million) appear to place Poles and Jews on an equal plane of losses and suffering—­adding to the competitiveness of Poles with Jews over who holds the ‘monopoly’ on suffering, a competitiveness heightened by the significant place of martyrdom as a root paradigm in the histories and identities of both Poles and Jews.”76 Additionally, by subsuming Polish Jews who were specifically murdered for being Jewish within the broader category of Poles who died during World War II, this accounting erases the distinction between Jewish and non-­Jewish suffering and creates a false sense of posthumous belonging. As Iwona Irwin-­Zarecka observes, “The figure of ‘six million Poles’ . . . grants the dead Jew the status of a Pole, in a postmortem acceptance of the Jews’ membership in the Polish family. And this represents a reading of the past which renders that past unrecognizable.”77 Zubrzycki’s research indicates that the iconic Holocaust number six million carries with it a different meaning in Poland; this meaning challenges the public perception elsewhere of six million as a “Jewish” figure and as a figure referring only to Jews, but by doing so thereby accentuates the number’s importance as a symbol and point of reference. In this case, the competition over the meaning of the number should be understood as an aspect of the number’s significance. Such competition over the meaning of “six million” also offers fertile ground for alternative readings of that very competition. The suggestion that “six million” carries a profoundly different implication in Poland presents the possibility for creating what literary scholar Michael Rothberg calls “multidirectional memory”:

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Against the framework that understands collective memory as competitive memory—­as a zero-­sum struggle over scarce resources—­I suggest that we consider memory as multidirectional: as subject to ongoing negotiation, cross-­ referencing, and borrowing; as productive and not privative. . . . A model of multidirectional memory allows for the perception of the power differentials that tend to cluster around memory competition, but it also locates that competition within a larger spiral of memory discourse in which even hostile invocations of memory can provide vehicles for further, countervailing commemorative acts. The model of multidirectional memory posits collective memory as partially disengaged from exclusive versions of cultural identity and acknowledges how remembrance both cuts across and binds together diverse spatial, temporal, and cultural sites.78

Applied to Polish claims on the symbolic worth of “six million,” Rothberg’s model of multidirectional memory suggests that such claims could be the site of generative rather than degenerative significations. In this scenario, it is possible to see Jewish understandings of the “six million” as nonexclusive and noncompetitive, without losing any sense of the number’s value to Jews, and thus without denying its iconicity. In a similar manner, Polish uses of the figure reference by necessity the Jewish sense without denying Poles’ own desire for recognition of national losses. To be sure, the elision of Polish Jewish particularity through the appropriation of Polish Jewish deaths into a larger generic national Polish collective makes multidirectional memorialization much harder to sustain: erasure of Jewish identity is an indigestible loss that cannot be borne in the negotiation of this potentially shared symbolic meaning. This is also why the “eleven million” figure would be a less productive site for multidirectional memory, since it by nature trades Jewish specificity for a generic—­and ahistorical—­universality. But even here one can see the powerful cultural force exerted by the figure of six million, and indeed the notion of any multidirectional memorialization depends on an a priori establishment of the iconic significance of the number.79

Denying Six Million Of course, one of the most notable challenges to the figure of six million comes in the context of Holocaust denial. Deborah Lipstadt, in her landmark study of this phenomenon, outlines its history, which includes a

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number of direct attacks on the veracity of Nazi genocide’s toll. One of the earliest and most influential deniers was Frenchman Paul Rassinier, a former Communist who had actually been interned by the Nazis in Buchenwald and Dora.80 Rassinier maintained that the gas chambers and the claim of six million murdered were a hoax perpetrated by Zionists. He added the classic antisemitic charge of Jews’ obsession with money to his accusation of Zionist fraud, suggesting that German reparations were calculated based on the “six million” figure: “Israel, with the aid of cooperative Jewish historians and the ‘Zionist establishment,’ had inflated the number of dead in order to ‘swindle’ the Germans out of millions of marks. They claimed that six million died, but, in truth at least four-­fifths of those six million ‘were very much alive at the end of the war.’” Needless to say, Rasinier offered no proof of his accusations, implying, Lipstadt suggests, that the evidence was kept “secret in order to inflate the amount of money Israel was able to extract from the Germans.”81 The notion that the six million were not only alive but had emigrated was popular in 1950s and 1960s America, where the antisemitic magazine The Cross and the Flag, published by clergyman Gerald L. K. Smith, “informed its readers that the six million Jews were in the United States.”82 Suspicion of the motivations behind German reparations also found support in the United States, with controversial historian Harry Elmer Barnes suggesting, “‘The size of the German reparations to Israel has been based on the theory that vast numbers of Jews were exterminated at the express order of Hitler, some six million being the most usually accepted number.’”83 One of the most virulent Holocaust deniers was Austin J. App, an American professor of English literature, who, like his colleagues, engaged in the “‘numbers game’ . . . with great fervor. [These deniers] attempt to demonstrate that it is statistically impossible for six million to have died”; App specifically “denounced the figure of six million as a ‘smear terrorizing myth.’”84 App’s greatest contribution to the ideological literature of Holocaust denial is his 1973 pamphlet, The Six Million Swindle, which repeats the common charge that the number is a fraud perpetrated by Israel to extract financial concessions from the Germans. But App adds the accusation that the Jews colluded with the Allies in this fraud to hide Allied responsibility for wartime atrocities, and in fact “controlled Allied policy.”85 The Six Million Swindle concludes with eight “axioms that have come to serve as the founding principles of the California-­based Institute for Historical Review

The Holocaust as an Iconic Number  • 181

[an academic-­sounding institution that is the mainstay of the pseudo-­ scholarship of denial] and as the basic postulates of Holocaust denial.”86 According to Lipstadt, these axioms can be divided into three types: the first downplays Nazi crimes by denying there ever was a plan or the means for genocide, alleges the Nazis only really wanted Jews to emigrate, and claims Jewish deaths were caused by the Soviet Union; the second justifies any German killing of Jews in the context of war; and the third “blame[s] the perpetuation of this hoax on Israel and Jewish leaders and scholars, all of whom have material and political interests in its dissemination.” For example, App’s fifth axiom, as paraphrased by Lipstadt, reads: “If there existed the slightest likelihood that the Nazis had really murdered six million Jews, ‘World Jewry’ would demand subsidies to conduct research on the topic and Israel would open its archives to historians. They have not done so. Instead they have persecuted and branded as an anti-­Semite anyone who wished to publicize the hoax. This persecution constitutes the most conclusive evidence that the six million figure is a ‘swindle.’” Needless to say, as Lipstadt points out in a footnote to this axiom, “All these assertions are absolutely false.”87 Around the same time, in 1974 in England, the pseudonymous Richard E. Harwood published another text that has served as one of the most widely distributed and essential works of Holocaust denial: Did Six Million Really Die? “Within less than a decade, more than a million copies had been distributed in more than forty countries. Because at first glance it seemed to be a sober scholarly effort, many outside the circle of deniers were confused by the claims it made.” But Harwood was really Richard Verrall, “the editor of the Spearhead, the publication of the British right-­ wing neofascist organization the National Front,” and his pamphlet was a liberal paraphrase of an anonymously authored American work, The Myth of the Six Million, which was actually written by David Hoggan, whose earlier work had influenced Barnes. “The basic arguments cited in both works are based on material gleaned from Rassinier, though in certain instances they go even further in their extremism.”88 There is little need to go further. Clearly, the number six million has been significant enough for Holocaust deniers to concentrate at least part of their efforts on assailing its validity, from multiple angles; if it were not the iconic figure referring to the mass murder of Jews in the Shoah, it would not appear prominently in the titles and arguments of these works. In a number of cases, the delivery of these attacks has been

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shrouded in what appears to be rational scholarly analysis, supplemented with references to published works, so that the work of a denier appears substantiated and worth consideration. Only those who know the field of Holocaust studies would be able to recognize in works like Did Six Million Really Die? the self-­perpetuating cycle of citing other denial literature as evidence and the deliberate misquotation, misunderstanding, and misuse of legitimate sources that are the backbone of this insidious antisemitic material. Although most scholars resist the urge to publicly refute deniers’ claims (so as to avoid any perceived legitimation of their arguments by such attention), in South Africa the Jewish Board of Deputies initiated legal processes to ban dissemination there of Harwood/Verrall’s pamphlet; the South African Republic’s Publication Board agreed it was “undesirable” and so issued the ban. Arthur Suzman and Denis Diamond subsequently collected evidence and depositions in Israel and England to prepare for the appeal of this decision by the ultra-­right-­wing South African Observer, which had distributed the pamphlet, but the appellants withdrew at the last minute, leaving the ban in place. Suzman and Diamond published their findings as a book instead, titled Six Million Did Die; the book serves as a rare point-­by-­point refutation of a key document of Holocaust denial.89

Six Million Jews It is clear that the number six million is the dominant figure in the reckoning and public recognition of Jewish loss during the Holocaust—­just as powerful an icon as the others discussed in this book. A recent rendering of this iconic figure in print further accentuates its significance in the post-­ Holocaust landscape: the book And Every Single One Was Someone consists solely of the word Jew repeated six million times over 1,250 pages. “It is meant as a kind of coffee-­table monument of memory,” wrote Jodi Rudoren in the New York Times, acknowledging the publication as more concept and conversation piece than literary achievement, intended more for institutional purchase and display than for individual consumption.90 The “author” of the volume, Phil Chernofsky, first thought of the book’s “shtick” in the late 1970s, when he taught at the Yeshiva of Central Queens and charged his students to simultaneously write the word Jew on blank sheets of paper as many times as possible in half an hour; the total came to only forty thousand, pointing to the enormity of collecting six million Jews on the page.

The Holocaust as an Iconic Number  • 183

The publisher’s goal, it turns out, is to print six million copies of the book. Rudoren compares it to Yad Vashem’s ongoing effort to collect and record the identity of every single Jewish victim of the Holocaust in its Names Recovery Project; so far, the project has documented 4.3  million names and publicized them in an oversized Book of Names unveiled in June 2013 in the renovated Block 27 exhibition at the Auschwitz-­Birkenau State Museum.91 These are important symbolic, but very different, projects. Chernofsky’s book begins with the precision and certainty of the “six million,” but then renders that number as a mind-­numbing, anonymous mass of Jews, thereby reducing the multiplicity of individual victims to one unnamed Jew, repeated and symbolically collected six million times. In contrast, Yad Vashem’s version is another example of an actual collecting project whose ultimate goal of accounting for every one of six million victims might strike many as forever out of reach, but which nonetheless can inspire participation and action; in Yad Vashem’s Book of Names, every one is unique, individual, not anonymous. Despite their differences, both endeavors arise from the iconic significance of the number six million. In the continuing symbolization of the Holocaust, this figure has an afterlife—­indeed, afterlives; all of these afterlives provide Jews and non-­Jews with numerical icons that assist in conceptualizing the Shoah and serve as mechanisms by which the future of its memory may be secured.


Looking Again at Holocaust Icons

Holocaust icons are powerful, indispensable tools with which people comprehend the Shoah. We use these tools to make sense of the Holocaust and negotiate our relationships to that past in the present. Even more, our understandings depend on the distillation of historical events and memorial representations into easily apprehensible symbols that often operate on noncognitive levels—­that speak or indicate “Holocaust” to us at first blush, on a visceral level. The icons examined in this book originate in the mechanics of bureaucratic murder, narratives and images associated with victimization, and the number symbolizing mass death; they span a wide swath of what may be called the experience of the Holocaust. They embody the presence of the Shoah in our midst, in a range of forms and expressions that cycle and recycle across the postwar landscape, in museums, memorials, art, literature, photography, public and private speech, in our minds, and more. Although some may decry the apparent oversimplification of complex histories these icons seem to engender, leading people to know less and less about the past as time goes on, the fact remains that without the availability of these mediating tools many people might not apprehend the Holocaust at all. In any case, these tools are present in our culture, 184

Looking Again at Holocaust Icons • 185

and it is difficult to imagine a world without them. Further, it would be impossible to control the use and application of these icons in public culture even if we were to try: these icons are here to stay; they are thoroughly integrated into the structures and mechanisms of Holocaust consciousness in the twenty-­first century. Holocaust icons work because they are based in the authentic: each icon examined here is grounded in the real history of World War II and the real experiences of people caught up in the Shoah. The more such icons are repeatedly employed in the service of Holocaust memory and representation, the more the past to which they refer is authenticated. This possibly endless feedback loop of authenticity and authentication is one way people in the present come to feel they know the Holocaust, even if that knowledge is based on a limited number of recycled images. This feedback loop is broken only when icons are turned away from their Holocaust referents toward other reference points. Something like this has happened in the case of the contemporary use of the pink triangle. In this case, though there are certainly some people who know that graphic symbol’s history, the vast majority perceive it as an icon of gay rights and recognition, and no longer retain any awareness of its Holocaust context. Symbolically, it is valuable and encouraging to see a sign of degradation literally and figuratively turned upside-­down to become positively associated with activism and awareness; it might have been even more powerful had that symbol retained its historic association and evidentiary function. The interplay of referentiality reminds us that Holocaust icons can be multidirectional in their memorial effects. We saw this most clearly in chapter 4, in the perceived competition between Poles and Jews over the meaning of the number six million; Michael Rothberg would propose here that the alternative to such competition is multidirectionality: “Against the alternatives to comparison—­an intense investment in the particularity of every case or the promulgation of absolutely neutral and universal principles—­I offer the multidirectional option: an ethical vision based on commitment to uncovering historical relatedness and working through the partial overlaps and conflicting claims that constitute the archives of memory and the terrain of politics.”1 Here, the “working through” is a key component: fueled by a rich, even archival, understanding of the particular histories of these icons, it is in the labor of memory that quick judgments and facile comparisons become less likely. In truth, it is not surprising if Holocaust icons resonate in a broader comparative context or if they work

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like magnets, drawing alterative communities of memory closer in their desire to partake of the icons’ potency: this is certainly a property of sacred artifacts the world over; it is often the case that groups compete to get a piece of what many consider sacred. This is perhaps one reason why, when Zlata Filipović published her diary, she was hailed (and marketed) as “Bosnia’s Anne Frank,” despite or possibly because the author consciously modeled her account on Frank’s, which she had read, and regardless of the many differences between the two authors. Multidirectional memory is also at work in Marjorie Agosín’s Dear Anne Frank, (whose genesis Marianne Hirsch discusses). When Agosín incorporates her own memories of an image of Anne Frank in generating her own work, this is a postmemorial act; the fact that Frank stood as such a powerful touchstone and address for her poetic reflections reflects Frank’s iconic position. Hirsch writes: “Postmemorial work . . . strives to reactivate and re-­embody more distant political and cultural memorial structures by reinvesting them with resonant individual and familial forms of mediation and aesthetic expression. In these ways, less directly affected participants can become engaged in the generation of postmemory that can persist even after all participants and even their familial descendants are gone.”2 For Hirsch, that labor of postmemory is one of building affiliative connections to and among elements of the past, which, without such effort, would remain out of reach. Thus, her interest is primarily in exploring those networks of relationships, and they are certainly generative. But we would be wise to measure the limits of affiliative and multidirectional memories. Writing about Agosín and Filipovic, Sara Horowitz cautions, “If Anne Frank represents the voice of history for these writers resisting oppression in their own time and place, she also remains, squarely, a voice from history. Thus, in negotiating the terms of an analogy with Frank and her writing, these later writers must keep history intact and in its place.”3 I have focused my interest on analyzing the fruits of these memorial and historical labors, because those efforts produce and reproduce the cultural reworkings of Holocaust-­related material that in turn contribute to an item’s iconicity. Thus, I have been more interested in the record of those reworkings and how they came to be, tracing the lines from then to now and retaining the senses of space and place that keep icons grounded in reality. Nonetheless, the more these affiliative relationships multiply, the more the icons are culturally reinforced and become increasingly desirable and desired.

Looking Again at Holocaust Icons • 187

Further, the more these icons multiply and the feedback loop of authentication is activated, the more the icons are visibly and ideationally present, bringing the Holocaust more frequently to mind. One reason this process keeps repeating is because the icons examined here are not direct representations of violence or of its effects; they are not atrocity photographs, whose repetition might be dulled by concerns over causing revulsion in viewers or even over leading to “atrocity fatigue.” I did not choose to address well-­known pictures taken at the time of liberation, such as Margaret Bourke-­White’s photo of male survivors behind barbed wire at Buchenwald or the famous image of men in the same camp’s barracks, taken by a member of the US Signal Corps. Both have been analyzed expertly by Barbie Zelizer, who is concerned that the reproduction of such photos has become typological: “The predictable arrival of iconic images of barbarism adds new residents to already-­populated categories of visual representation: as soon as we see the agonized collectives of survivors and victims, gaunt faces behind barbed wire, vacant stares of the torture, and accouterments of torture, we recognize the atrocity aesthetic.”4 When such images are repeated—­often, like the icons analyzed here, with little information attached—­they apparently engender an increasing desensitization and habituation to suffering. In the extreme, as Zelizer suggests, their recurrence encourages forgetting of precisely the histories they were intended to represent. Although the risk of forgetfulness is also present in the repetition of the Holocaust icons I have identified, their avoidance of the “atrocity aesthetic” acts as a bulwark against oblivion; their reproduction permits identification and affiliation, not alienation and dissociation. Nonetheless, I do think that particular icons left unexamined will more easily degrade into empty signifiers that will, in the end, facilitate deterioration of Holocaust consciousness and, ultimately, forgetting of the Shoah. This book has been an attempt to forestall such a degeneration of memory by closely investigating the icons selected, in order to understand how each has evolved and what might be communicated by and with each were it to be cracked open, its own genealogy exposed. That opening of the icon to close analysis has been a primary aim of this volume, and it brings me back to W. J. T. Mitchell’s Picture Theory, which raised the point of explicating visual experience on its own terms, without reliance on a model based in textuality—­the point that understanding an image requires a different kind of literacy and a broader approach to representation than is engaged when simply reading texts. Mitchell asks

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rhetorically in his conclusion, “[S]uppose we thought about representation, not in terms of a particular kind of object (like a statue or a painting) but as a kind of activity, process, or set of relationships? Suppose we de-­reified the thing that seems to ‘stand’ before us, ‘standing for’ something else, and thought of representation, not as that thing, but as a process in which the thing is a participant, like a pawn on a chessboard or a coin in a system of exchange?”5 In this view, a representation is a presentation recalled to mind (to presence) to serve as a vehicle for achieving some larger purpose; it is a component in a bigger picture, not a thing in itself. Its purpose is not to show and tell but rather to generate meaning in an ongoing, even recurring fashion. It is in this manner that Holocaust icons point back to the Shoah and mediate its presence for contemporary viewers, who themselves are implicated in a web of relationships that link them, and the icons, to past and present. It is in this way that contemporary representations of “Arbeit macht frei,” for example, while trading on the Nazi meanings of that slogan, also introduce and participate in new associations with the phrase, engaging creators and consumers of Holocaust “culture” in an ever-­expanding network of associations. This big picture—­this gestalt—­of the Holocaust icon is a key to apprehending its particular performative power. Margaret Miles states that “Visual images, . . . as presentational rather than discursive and as inherently multivalent, can offer formulation and expression simultaneously to a wide variety of persons with different perspectives.”6 Holocaust icons, in their associative aspect, do not present only one possible reading to viewers but rather open up multiple avenues of interpretation. These can gesture in the direction of the Shoah and its multiple historical and memorial narratives, as we saw in the discussion of railway cars, and they can also point in other directions. This is what icons do. It is not only in this way that there is literally more than meets the eye in the Holocaust icon. Mitchell’s theory is doubly important in teaching that the image itself exceeds the merely visual and functions across a wide range of representations.7 Miles observes, in distinguishing the religious image in its original context from the aesthetic experience of it in a museum setting, that “the image is valued because of its power to move, to focus the senses and the mind, and to offer a mnemonic aid that gathers the worshipper’s strongest and most fundamental ideas, emotions, and memories in an enriched present.”8 We understand that the Holocaust icon is not a religious object and yet shares these characteristics, even as it also appears

Looking Again at Holocaust Icons • 189

across a broader representational spectrum. This is one way it can be distinguished from the religious icon. Another important distinction lies in the purpose of the icon. Elizabeth Zelensky and Lela Gilbert note: “In the Orthodox tradition, the word and the image are treated as equally important in the economy of salvation. Clearly, humans gain understanding in many more ways than through text and intellect. Images speak to the soul and spirit and reveal the creative importance of humanity’s life on earth. Human beings receive salvation not only through revelation based on Scripture but also through active participation in the work of God on earth. For the Orthodox, one aspect of this participation is the creation and veneration of physical descriptions of the eternal.”9 Orthodox Christian icons thereby transcend textual interpretation and intellectual contemplation, as well as conservative notions of the image as merely a static depiction of something. In all this, they are enormously illuminating as models for the icons discussed in this book. But Holocaust icons stop short of their salvific function: as much as these types of icons may be seen as fundamental incarnations and embodiments of the Shoah, they must not be viewed in any way as redemptive, either of the past (understood as an object that cannot be fully mastered, assimilated, or digested) or in the present (conceived as a subject looking for easy resolution and ultimate purposiveness to the traumas into which the icon initiates her or him). These distinctions remind us that—­religiously speaking, at least—­a more appropriate context for modeling the Holocaust icon may be found in Judaism, not in Orthodox Christianity. Certainly a Jewish icon, if one existed, would serve as a more apt template for the analyses in this volume—­except that we all know Jewish thought frowns on the iconic.10 The risk of idolatry in any attempt to craft a religious image looms so large in Jewish culture (the episode of the Golden Calf is the key example) that any icon of even remotely incarnational function would be invalid. And yet, Jewish ritual life is replete with religious objects: Torah scrolls are venerated, tefillin (phylacteries) are wrapped and bound upon the arm and head to facilitate connection to, and communication with, the divine in the course of daily prayer. As I write these words, people throughout my neighborhood are building sukkot, temporary outdoor structures vulnerable to the elements, that facilitate the biblical commandment to “dwell” in them for the duration of their eponymous holiday; they also remind practitioners of the Exodus narrative, in which the Israelites dwelled in similar

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huts under divine protection on the way to the Promised Land, a narrative reexperienced each year anew. All of these are material objects and mnemonic devices that exist in part to mediate relationships to the past in the present, though they reject the incarnate presence exhibited by their cognate in the Orthodox Christian icon. A discussion of the possibility of the Jewish icon and its potential applicability to this context raises issues of legitimacy that I have not directly addressed: When is a Holocaust icon illegitimate? When are its uses inappropriate? In this book, I have chosen not to engage in debates over legitimacy, preferring instead to simply highlight cases in which these icons have been put to other uses, from Robert Kuśmirowski’s Wagon to the Whitwell Middle School’s railcar-­warehouse. These examples and others mentioned display the enduring desirability of Holocaust icons and the cultural need to seize upon them for artistic, memorial, and other creative purposes; I leave it to others to evaluate the appropriateness of these applications. I will say this, though: Orthodox Christian icons point positively to the divine absolute; indeed, they embody it, so an error in apprehending a religious icon in this context is no more than a doctrinal or theological mistake, a failure of faithful engagement (aside from full-­blown iconoclasm). But the absolute to which Holocaust icons gesture is a negative one, and any theological association with the divine is obscene; mistakes in connecting the icon to the Shoah referent can thus veer more easily into offense and assaults on truth and memory, confusing commemoration now with real experience then. Some would see this in associating paper clips with Jews, or in attempting to pack museum visitors into an imaginary (or real) railway car. In this book, I set out to unravel the intertwined historical and memorial strands that make up four Holocaust icons, as I have defined them. In each case, I have unpacked the icon, described its life and afterlife, and explored how each works and has evolved, in order that readers can comprehend, not only each icon but also, through it, something of the ways present-­day Holocaust consciousness is constructed. In a review, the film critic A. O. Scott writes, “The never-­ending stream of post-­‘Shoah,’ post-­ ‘Schindler’s List’ movies and books creates an illusion of memory, allowing us to believe that we know more than we really do.”11 We have jumped into this stream, claiming we can know more. If there were only one thing readers could take away from the category of the religious icon as adapted for this book, it would be the practice of contemplation: as the faithful contemplate classic religious icons in their traditional settings and meditate

Looking Again at Holocaust Icons • 191

on the incarnation these represent, so too do I wish my readers to take the time to deeply study these Holocaust icons and reflect on what they embody, in order to envision in a new way the Holocaust they represent. Against those who worry about the trivialization of Holocaust memory in public culture, as in repeated but empty cries of “Never again” (a candidate for analysis in its own right), I have focused on the image and role of the Holocaust icon in anchoring the past in the present. Each icon is perhaps only part of a whole that continually eludes full representation and memorialization: railway cars recall deportations but do not engage roundups and mass shootings by the Einsatzgruppen; “Arbeit macht frei” represents incarceration and irony but says nothing about starvation in the ghettos; Anne Frank’s image speaks volumes about life in hiding and, when brought into full focus, reflects soberly on at least some portion of the experience and murder of one-­and-­a-­half million children, but the majority of those children’s stories are completely lost to history and memory. Even the saga of the “six million,” which may be as close to a complete icon of the Holocaust as exists, comes up against an inevitable failure of vision in disembodied abstraction. Surely there are other Holocaust icons and alternative ways of making the past present; we will need to find them so that maybe, one day, we will get the full picture. For now, at least, my hope is that we will never look at or think about these Holocaust icons the same way again.

Notes Introduction: Holocaust Symbols 1 Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After

the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 5.

2 Ibid., 106, 113. 3 These observations are largely gleaned from my previously published research,

especially Committed to Memory: Cultural Mediations of the Holocaust (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003), and serve as a bridge to this project. 4 Hirsch, Generation of Postmemory, 41. 5 I am grateful to Laura Levitt for encouraging me to explore this critical issue of authentication. In fact, he went even further, coining the term authentification and applying it to this case because “these are desires that are not given but always already produced.” 6 Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press, http://​www​.oxforddictionaries​ .com/​us/​definition/​american​_english/​icon. 7 David G. Roskies, The Jewish Search for a Usable Past (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), 26. 8 Dominik Bartmanski and Jeffrey C. Alexander, “Introduction: Materiality and Meaning in Social Life: Toward an Iconic Turn in Cultural Sociology,” in Iconic Power: Materiality and Meaning in Social Life, ed. Jeffrey C. Alexander, Dominik Bartmanski, and Bernhard Giesen (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 1–­2. 9 Charles Sanders Peirce, Peirce on Signs: Writings on Semiotic by Charles Sanders Peirce, ed. James Hoopes (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 181; italics in original. 10 Charles Sanders Peirce, The Essential Peirce: Selected Philosophical Writings, vol. 2 (1893–­1913), ed. Peirce Edition Project (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998), 13. 11 Ibid., 5. 12 Martin Kemp, From Christ to Coke: How Image Becomes Icon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 3. 193

194  •  Notes to Pages 9–12

13 Sherry B. Ortner, “On Key Symbols,” American Anthropologist n.s. 75, no. 5 (Octo-

ber 1973): 1339–­1340.

14 Ibid., 1342. 15 Clifford Geertz, “Religion as a Cultural System,” in Anthropological Approaches to

the Study of Religion, ed. Michael Banton (London: Tavistock, 1966), 4. German historian Alf Lüdtke notes, “Symbols invoke and connect the grand or spectacular with the nonconspicuous and seemingly trivial. Symbols relate the cognitive to the emotive and refer the tangible to the non-­tangible. Symbols are not ‘given’ from above, but produced and appropriated in daily encounters and situations.” See “‘German Work’ and ‘German Workers’: The Impact of the Symbol on the Exclusion of Jews in Nazi Germany,” in Probing the Depths of German Antisemitism, ed. David Bankier (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000), 299. Lüdtke cites, for the first sentence only, Victor Turner, The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual (Ithaca, NY, 1973), 27ff and 48ff. 16 For an extended discussion of Holocaust relics in a museum context, see my “Torah and Taboo: Containing Jewish Relics and Jewish Identity at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,” Numen: International Review for the History of Religions 57, nos. 3/4 (2010), special issue, “Relics in Comparative Perspective,” ed. Kevin Trainor, 505–­536. 17 Virgil Cândea, “Icons,” in Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Lindsay Jones, 2nd ed., vol. 7 (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005): 4352–­4354, Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://​go​.galegroup​.com/​ps/​i​.do​?id​=​GALE​ %7CCX3424501477​&​v= ​ ​2​.1​&​u​=​miam11506​&​it​=​r​&​p​=​GVRL​&​sw​=​w​&​asid​ =​c9aaf8f4e290ee80bc4e6cd504aad273. 18 Elizabeth Zelensky and Lela Gilbert, Windows to Heaven: Introducing Icons to Protestants and Catholics (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005), 16. 19 Ibid., 24. 20 See Kemp, Christ to Coke, 20–­21. 21 Zelensky and Gilbert, Windows, 21–­22. Emphasis mine. 22 E. H. Gombrich, Symbolic Images: Studies in the Art of the Renaissance, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 13. 23 Robert Harriman and John Louis Lucaites, No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 1, 9. 24 Vicki Goldberg, The Power of Photography: How Photographs Changed Our Lives (New York: Abbeville Press, 1991), 135. 25 Cornelia Brink, “Secular Icons: Looking at Photographs from Nazi Concentration Camps,” History & Memory 12, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2000): 137; DOI: 10.1353/ ham.2000.0001. 26 Ibid., 142. 27 Ibid., 138. See also Cornelia Brink, Ikonen der Vernichtung: öffentlicher Gebrauch von Fotografien aus nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslagern nach 1945 (Berlin: Akademie, 1998); Barbie Zelizer, Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory through the Camera’s Eye (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998); and David Bathrick, “Introduction: Seeing against the Grain: Re-­visualizing the Holocaust,” in Visualizing the Holocaust: Documents, Aesthetics, Memory, ed. David Bathrick, Brad Prager, and Michael D. Richardson (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2008), 1–­18.

Notes to Pages 12–23  •  195 28 W. J. T. Mitchell, Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation

(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 4.

29 Ibid., 16. 30 Margaret R. Miles, Image as Insight: Visual Understanding in Western Christianity

and Secular Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985), 2.

31 Hirsch, Generation of Postmemory, 35–­36. Italics in original. 32 See also Stier, Committed to Memory, 30–­31 and 126. 33 Janet Liebman Jacobs, “Remembering Genocide,” in Religion, Violence, Memory,

and Place, ed. Oren Baruch Stier and J. Shawn Landres (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), 171. 34 Interview with Jean Wainwright, Avant Garde, no. 262 (December-­January 2002/2003): 1–­4. 35 It is not insignificant that, at the Hirshhorn Museum gift shop during the Gordon exhibit, a placard read, “Sign up for the Hirshhorn’s e-­newsletter and get a free tattoo inspired by Douglas Gordon’s Tattoo, 1 (1994).” I signed up and received several copies of a temporary tattoo that reads “Trust Me”; the docent at the store who gave me the tattoos also warned me to “be careful—­they don’t wash off too easily.” The more familiar context for tattoos as Holocaust referents is, of course, the tattooed camp identification number. Tim Cole uses the image of the tattoo to encapsulate the emergence of the Holocaust as “probably the most talked about and oft-­represented event of the twentieth century”: “The ‘Holocaust’ is so familiar that we don’t even need to hear the word spoken; the sight of tattooed numbers triggers a whole stock of mental images. . . . And yet . . . tattooed numbers on someone’s arm meant little in 1950s America. . . . The image of tattooed numbers has become one of several which have come to represent the ‘Holocaust.’” See Tim Cole, Selling the Holocaust: From Auschwitz to Schindler: How History Is Bought, Packaged, and Sold (New York: Routledge, 1999), 2–­3. 36 Ziva Amishai-­Maisels, Depiction and Interpretation: The Influence of the Holocaust on the Visual Arts (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1993), xxxii. 37 Ibid., 123. 38 Ibid., 131–­154. 39 Ibid., 147. 40 Ibid., 148. 41 See ibid., 148–­154. 42 Geoffrey H. Hartman, “Introduction: Darkness Visible,” in Holocaust Remembrance: The Shapes of Memory, ed. Geoffrey H. Hartman (New York: Wiley-­ Blackwell, 1993), 6. 43 Ibid., 2. 44 Ibid., 11. 45 Kemp, Christ to Coke, 74. 46 See “Flags of the World: Origins of the Swastika Flag (Third Reich, Germany),” http://​flagspot​.net/​flags/​de​%7Dns​_or​.html​#ori; Symbols​.com, STANDS4 LLC, 2014, “Swastika Symbol,” http://​www​.symbols​.com/​symbol/​1354; Steven Heller, The Swastika: Symbol beyond Redemption? (New York: Allworth Press, 2000); and Steven Heller, Iron Fists: Branding the 20th Century Totalitarian State (New York: Phaidon Press, 2011); Kemp, Christ to Coke, 74–­77. 47 Gershom Scholem, “The Curious History of the Six-­Pointed Star,” Commentary 8, no. 3 (September 1949): 243–­251, quotation from 251; see also Symbols​.com,

196  •  Notes to Pages 26–32

STANDS4 LLC, 2014, “Star of David,” http://​www​.symbols​.com/​symbol/​66. Scholem’s comment deserves attention and unpacking. 48 Mark Godfrey, “Burnt Books and Absent Meaning: Morris Louis’s Charred Journal: Firewritten Series and the Holocaust,” in Image and Remembrance: Representation and the Holocaust, ed. Shelley Hornstein and Florence Jacobowitz (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003), 186–­187. Godfrey is writing here about Morris Louis’s artistic use of the Magen David. 49 Lawrence L. Langer, “Essay,” in Landscapes of Jewish Experience: Paintings by Samuel Bak, essay and commentary by Lawrence L. Langer (Boston: Pucker Gallery in association with Brandeis University Press, 1997), 4. 50 Ibid., 47. 51 Samuel Bak, “Speaking About the Unspeakable: A Lecture by Samuel Bak,” International Colloquoy about the Holocaust and the Arts, European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, October 2002, http://​www​.chgs​.umn​.edu/​museum/​responses/​ bak/. 52 See “AIDS Activism in the Arts,” http://​www​.glbtq​.com/​arts/​aids​_activism​_art​ .html. Thanks to James Wentzy of ACT UP/ NY for this reference. 53 See ibid. 54 See R. Amy Elman, “Triangles and Tribulations: The Politics of Nazi Symbols,” Journal of Homosexuality 30, no. 3 (1996): 1–­11, http://​www​.remember​.org/​educate/​ elman​.html. 55 “Section 86a Use of Symbols of Unconstitutional Organizations,” Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB), as promulgated on November 13, 1998, trans. Federal Ministry of Justice, http://​www​.iuscomp​.org/​gla/​statutes/​StGB​.htm; Andreas Stegbauer, “The Ban of Right-­Wing Extremist Symbols According to Section 86a of the German Criminal Code,” German Law Journal 8, no. 2 (2007): 173–­184, http://​www​.germanlawjournal​.com/​pdfs/​V0108N002/​PDF​_Vol​_08​_No​_02​ _173–­184_Developments_Stegbauer.pdf; Jodi Rudoren, “Israel’s Efforts to Limit Use of Holocaust Terms Raise Free-­Speech Questions,” New York Times, January 16, 2014, A4, A8. 56 Lisa Saltzman, “Readymade Redux: Once More the Jewish Museum,” in Jewish Dimensions in Modern Visual Culture: Antisemitism, Assimilation, Affirmation, ed. Rose-­Carol Washton Long, Matthew Baigell, and Milly Heyd (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press; Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2010), 308. 57 Ibid., 304. 58 Ibid., 308.

Chapter 1: Different Trains 1 Steve Reich, “Different Trains,” August 1988, liner notes for Steve Reich, Different

Trains, with the Kronos Quartet, recorded August 31–­­September 9, 1988, and Steve Reich, Electric Counterpoint, with Pat Metheny, recorded September 26–­­October 1, 1987, Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch Records, 9 79176–­2, 1989, compact disc. This chapter is an elaboration of some ideas presented in Oren Baruch Stier, “Inscribing Memory: Iconic Paradigms for Holocaust Remembrance,” chap. 2 in Committed to Memory: Cultural Mediations of the Holocaust (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003), especially 34–­39 and 64–­65, and Oren Baruch Stier, “Holocaust

Notes to Pages 33–39  •  197

Icons: The Media of Memory,” in Impossible Images: Contemporary Art after the Holocaust, ed. Shelley Hornstein, Laura Levitt, and Laurence J. Silberstein (New York: New York University Press, 2003); in both cases, I discuss four displays of Holocaust-­era railway cars in contexts different from and preliminary to the one examined here. 2 Ibid. 3 Amy Lynn Wlodarski, “The Testimonial Aesthetics of Different Trains,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 63, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 101, http://​www​.jstor​ .org/​stable/​10​.1525/​jams​.2010​.63​.1​.99. I am grateful to Laura Levitt for alerting me to the significance of Wlodarski’s article for this project. 4 Ibid., 103, 106, 105. 5 Ibid., 104, 116. 6 Ibid., 137. 7 Ibid., 126. 8 For a different extended reading of Reich’s piece, see Michelle A. Friedman, “Haunted by Memory: American Jewish Transformations,” in Impossible Images: Contemporary Art after the Holocaust, ed. Shelley Hornstein, Laura Levitt, and Laurence J. Silberstein (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 42–­48. Other audio pieces also involve railroad motifs: Herbert Distel has incorporated train sounds into his hour-­long “radiophonic” work; David Axelrod’s Requiem: The Holocaust has a second movement titled “Kyrie/Trains,” featuring English lyrics by Axelrod describing deportation by cattle car. See Herbert Distel, Die Reise, Therwil, Switzerland, Hat Hut Records, 1988, compact disc; David Axelrod, Requiem: The Holocaust, Nashville, TN, Liberty Records, 1993, CDP-­0777–­7–­81258–­2–­2, compact disc. 9 Lawrence Douglas, “The Shrunken Head of Buchenwald: Icons of Atrocity at Nuremberg,” Representations, no. 63 (Summer 1998): 41. 10 Ibid., 42. 11 Ibid., 53–­54. Playwright Jeff Cohen has dramatized this issue in “The Soap Myth”; see http://​www​.thesoapmyth​.com (accessed September 21, 2014). 12 Douglas, “Shrunken Head,” 54. 13 Ibid., 55, citing Michael Berenbaum, “Dimensions of Genocide,” in Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, ed. Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 80. 14 Douglas, “Shrunken Head,” 56. 15 Alfred Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche ‘Viehwaggon’ als symbolisches Objekt in KZ-­Gedenkstätten,” Teil 1 [“The German ‘cattle car’ as a symbolic object in concentration camp memorials,” part 1], Stiftung Topographie des Terrors Gedenkstätten Rundbrief [Topography of Terror Foundation Memorials Newsletter], no. 139 (October 2007): 27. For the “Lili Jacob” album, see The Auschwitz Album: The Story of a Transport, ed. Israel Gutman and Bella Gutterman, trans. Naftali Greenwood and Jerzy Michalovic ( Jerusalem: Yad Vashem; Oswiecim, Poland: Auschwitz-­ Birkenau State Museum, 2002). 16 Alfred Gottwaldt has published a description of thirty-­five cases of the display of Holocaust-­era railway cars, including all four examples discussed here, broken down by country as follows: Germany (11), Poland (8), France (3), Belgium (1), the United Kingdom (1), Israel (1), the United States (9), and Mexico (1). See Alfred Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche ‘Viehwaggon’ als symbolisches Objekt in

198  •  Notes to Pages 40–42

KZ-­Gedenkstätten,” Teil 2: Standorte der wagen in acht Ländern [“The German ‘cattle car’ as a symbolic object in concentration camp memorials,” part 2: Locations of cars in eight countries], Stiftung Topographie des Terrors Gedenkstätten Rundbrief [Topography of Terror Foundation Memorials Newsletter], no. 140 (December 2007): 16. Thanks to Lukas Danner for assistance with translating both parts of Gottwaldt’s article. Interestingly, in a 1999 article, Gottwaldt anticipates the more recent explosion of interest in obtaining and displaying such artifacts, noting, “[E]xamples of boxcars can be found in regular railroad museums where, without their symbolic significance, they are used simply as technical artifacts. To this day, dozens of cars like this are standing on sidings in middle Europe and are waiting to be discovered by museums.” See Alfred Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche Güterwagen: Eine Ikone für den Judenmord?” Museums Journal 13, no. 1 ( January 1999): 17. By 1994 however, Gottwaldt suggests, when the railway systems of East and West Germany were unified, the last such car was decommissioned; see Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche ‘Viehwaggon,’” part 1, 25. 17 I thank an anonymous reviewer of an earlier version of this chapter for expressing the symbolic importance of railway cars so succinctly. A brief discussion of these four cases is also provided by Tim Cole in Selling the Holocaust: From Auschwitz to Schindler: How History Is Bought, Packaged, and Sold (New York: Routledge. 1999), 164–­165. These are not the only cases of Holocaust-­era railway cars being used in museological or memorial settings. For example, Gottwaldt documented a number of them in his 1999 article: in addition to the four discussed here, he mentions a closed one used by the artist E. R. Nele in 1982 as part of an installation, at the Kassel “documenta 7” exhibition, called “The Ramp” (which would make it the first use of such a railway car in a cultural context) (15). Gottwaldt contrasts this with the closed car at the Berlin Technical Museum (opened in 1988), which is displayed to document the history of the German railroad and its role in the Holocaust (15–­16). Another railcar was exhibited in 1992 in the brick factory of the former concentration camp at Neuengamme near Hamburg, and was transferred in 1994 to the reconstructed freight yard (16). Finally, Gottwaldt notes that a similar car is displayed at the former internment camp of Les Milles near Aix-­en-­Provence in southern France (17). See Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche Güterwagen.” Thanks to Steve Luckert for providing Gottwaldt’s 1999 article. 18 Vivian M. Patraka, Spectacular Suffering: Theater, Fascism, and the Holocaust (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999), 109. 19 See, in this regard, Judith Tydor Baumel, “‘In Perfect Faith’: Jewish Religious Commemoration of the Holocaust,” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 30, no. 1 (2001): 5–­21. 20 Gary Brock and Marvin Prosono, “Holocaustism: The Emergence of a New Religious Movement,” Perspectives on Social Problems 7 (1995): 228. 21 Ibid., 228–­232. 22 Ibid., 238–­241. 23 Ibid., 233. 24 Adi Ophir, “On Sanctifying the Holocaust: An Anti-­Theological Treatise,” Tikkun 2, no. 1 ( January/March 1987): 62. 25 Ibid., 61. 26 Richard Rubenstein, in a response to Ophir’s essay, is skeptical as to whether any institution can sustain the demystification of the Holocaust that Ophir feels is

Notes to Pages 42–47  •  199

necessary. See Richard L. Rubenstein, “In Response to Professor Ophir,” Tikkun, 2, no. 1 ( January/March 1987): 66. 27 Ibid., 243. 28 Jennifer Hansen-­Glucklich, Holocaust Memory Reframed: Museums and the Challenges of Representation (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2014), 14. 29 The 1984 opening of the DHMC, including its railway car section, makes this the first known instance of the memorial/museological use of a Holocaust-­era railway car, though Alfred Gottwaldt did propose to obtain such an artifact prior to the summer of 1982 to symbolize the participation of the German railways in the murder of Jews in a planned railway exhibition of the Museum of Transport and Technology in West Berlin. The earliest European installation of a railway car was in Kassel, in a 1985 exhibition titled “documenta 7,” as part of a monument titled “the Ramp” designed by the artist E. R. Nele, as cited above; it incorporated bronze figures in flowing robes stationed on a ramp leading up to the closed side doors of the railcar; see Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche ‘Viehwaggon,’” part 2, 3. For additional discussion of Nele’s monument, see Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche Güterwagen,” 15. 30 James E. Young, The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 296. 31 Mike Jacobs, Holocaust Survivor: Mike Jacobs’ Triumph over Tragedy: A Memoir, ed. Ginger Jacobs (Austin, TX: Eakin Press, 2001), 145. 32 Max Glauben, conversation with the author, Dallas, TX, July 31, 2002. 33 This issue of authenticity was formerly reflected in museum literature, including a postcard that used to be available describing this railway car as an “actual boxcar . . . that was used for transporting people to the concentration camps,” and in the former museum’s audioguide, narrated by Karen Cortell Reisman, herself a child of survivors, which stated “this boxcar was donated to the Holocaust Center by the country of Belgium. It was actually used during the Holocaust to transport Jewish people from their homes to ghettos, concentration camps, and death camps. . . . As you stand here, look around and visualize the circumstances Jewish people endured.” 34 See also Cole, Selling the Holocaust, 165. At the DHMC, a placard speculated further on the authentic nature of the railway car: “This shortened railroad car may once have stood at the railroad siding at Auschwitz-­Birkenau, the notorious ramp where Jews were selected on arrival, or carried the property of those who were murdered.” 35 Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance audioguide, segment 400, “Overview of Boxcar area.” 36 Ibid., segment 400–­1. 37 Mike Jacobs, conversation with the author, Dallas, TX, July 31, 2002. 38 Ibid. 39 See Young, Texture of Memory, 296–­298. 40 All information about the new DHMCET is from phone conversations with Elliot Dlin (October 12, 2004) and Sara Abosch ( July 18, 2014), as well as a visit to the DHMCET in 2006. 41 Elliott Dlin, conversation with the author, Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center, August 1, 2002. 42 Edward T. Linenthal, Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America’s Holocaust Museum (New York: Viking, 1995), 1.

200  •  Notes to Pages 47–57

43 On the issue of the authenticity of the USHMM’s artifacts, see Omer Bartov, Mur-

der in Our Midst: The Holocaust, Industrial Killing, and Representation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 182. 44 “USHMM Railcar Installation,” videocassette (VHS), produced by USHMM communications 1990–­1998, USHMM Institutional Archives, Communications Office, series 1999–­126, Box 1: tape 9, n.d. 45 Linenthal, Preserving Memory, 159. 46 “USHMM Railcar Installation.” 47 US Holocaust Memorial Council, News/Photo Advisory, “Holocaust Railroad Car for U.S. Holocaust Museum Arrives in Baltimore July 6,” USHMM Institutional Archives, Construction Office, accession no: 98–­025, Records of Gerald Gurland Relating to the Museum Construction and the Annex Renovation, 1984–­1994, Box 50: Railroad Car [n.d.]. 48 Jerzy Przewlocki, letter to Kazimierz Kakol, April 5, 1989; Jacek E. Wilczur and K[azimierz] Kakol, letter to the management of Polish Ocean Lines, April 29, 1989; Kazimierz Kakol, letter to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, May 16, 1989; Jan Kaminski, letter to Memorial Museum of Holocaust, Washington, [DC,] USA, November 15, 1989. All in the USHMM Institutional Archives, Research Institute, accession no. 1998–­011, Director Michael Berenbaum’s Correspondence and Subject Files, 1989–­1995, Box 8: Railroad Car. 49 David Luebke, USHMM Interoffice Memorandum to Shaike Weinberg, Raye Farr, and Jacek Nowakowski, April 8, 1991, p.1, USHMM Institutional Archives, file 3.21: Railways to Death Text. 50 Ibid. 51 Ibid. 52 Ibid., 2. 53 Ibid. See also Cole, Selling the Holocaust, 164–­165. 54 My thanks to an anonymous reviewer of an earlier version of this chapter for this observation. One could argue that the Dallas railcar’s new incarnation at the DHMCET compares more favorably with the USHMM’s than did its placement at the DHMC. 55 Shari Werb, conversation with the author, USHMM, May 28, 2002. 56 Warren Marcus, conversation with the author, USHMM, May 28, 2002. 57 For more on the unique position of the USHMM in America and in the nation’s capital, see Michael Berenbaum, After Tragedy and Triumph: Essays in Modern Jewish Thought and the American Experience (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990). 58 See “History of the Museum,” Florida Holocaust Museum, accessed September 21, 2014, http://​www​.flholocaustmuseum​.org/​about/​history​.aspx. 59 “The Story of the Boxcar,” Florida Holocaust Museum, n.d., videocassette (VHS), 12 min. See also “History, Heritage and Hope Permanent Exhibition,” Florida Holocaust Museum, accessed September 21, 2014, http://​www​.flholocaustmuseum​ .org/​exhibits/​permanent​.aspx. 60 Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche ‘Viehwaggon,’” part 2, 11. 61 Email communication from Elena Sanderlin, museum registrar, Florida Holocaust Museum, August 26, 2014. 62 The tzedaka box-­car was previously displayed at https://​www​.flholocaustmuseum​ .org/​secure/​store​_new/​index​.cfm (webpage discontinued); as of October 2004 the

Notes to Pages 57–66  •  201

FHM’s website announced, “Currently, the replica is out of stock” (http://​www​ .flholocaustmuseum​.org/​about​.cfm, webpage discontinued); as of this writing, the museum’s online shopping is no longer available. 63 Steve Goldman, conversation with the author, Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL, August 8, 2000. 64 These issues of domestication, play, and use were also raised in the Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art, exhibition shown at the Jewish Museum in New York, March 17–­June 30, 2002. See Norman L. Kleeblatt, ed., Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art (New York: The Jewish Museum and New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001). 65 Yad Vashem is situated on Jerusalem’s har ha-­zikkaron (literally the “mountain of memory”), which occupies a portion of har Herzl (“Mount Herzl”), named for the founder of the modern Zionist movement and known as the burial site for Zionism’s and Israel’s most notable dead. 66 See “Yad Vashem Holocaust Transport Memorial (1991–­1994),” Moshe Safdie Hypermedia Archive, accessed September 21, 2014, http://​cac​.mcgill​.ca/​safdie/​searchengines/​showrecord​.php​?id​=​144. 67 Yet another reading would see the sheared rails as resulting from an Allied bombing that never happened, which would make the memorial resonate as a political critique of Allied inaction and unwillingness to save Jews; the logical outcome of that chain of associations would be that the Jews have to save themselves. 68 Yad Vashem does incorporate part of a railway car—­the half not used, due to space limitations, in London’s Imperial War Museum—­in its indoor permanent exhibition; see Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche ‘Viehwaggon,’” part 2, 11, 16. 69 See Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche ‘Viehwaggon,’” part 2, 18. 70 Controlled experience, history, and both integrative and initiatory approaches to Holocaust memory come together during the visitor’s entry into the USHMM’s Permanent Exhibition, via a usually crowded elevator ride that might be likened to a brief boxcar simulation, as pointed out to me by an anonymous reader of an earlier version of this chapter. 71 I return to the “eleven million” number in chapter 4. 72 See Saul Friedländer, in collaboration with Adam Seligman, “Memory of the Shoah in Israel: Symbols, Rituals, and Ideological Polarization,” in The Art of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in History, ed. James E. Young (New York: The Jewish Museum; Munich: Prestel-­Verlag, 1994), 149–­157. 73 “Memorial to the Deportees,” Yad Vashem, http://​212​.143​.122​.31/​visiting/​temp​ _visiting/​temp​_index​_deportees​.html (webpage discontinued). 74 Indeed, I invite the reader to do so. For one series of correlations, in which these four memorial-­representational strategies are mapped onto four examples of post-­ Holocaust thought (that of Elie Wiesel, Rabbi Irving [Yitz] Greenberg, Richard Rubenstein, and Emil Fackenheim) to reveal ways in which these ideologies are already present in the discourse about the Shoah, see my article “Different Trains,” 99–­101. 75 Emily Speers Mears, “Entlang der Auguststraße/Along Auguststrasse,” in Von Mäusen und Menschen: 4, Berlin Biennale für zeitgenössische Kunst/Of Mice and Men: 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, ed. Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni, and Ali Subotnick (Ostfildern-­Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2006), 90–­91. After the war, the building once again served as a school in the GDR beginning in the 1950s,

202  •  Notes to Pages 66–73

and the building was returned to the Jewish community in 1996, though it closed due to low enrollments; it remained untouched until the 4th Berlin Biennial. See “Ehemalige Jüdische Mädchenschule/Former Jewish School for Girls, Augustrasse 11–­13,” in Von Mäusen und Menschen/Of Mice and Men, 124–­125. 76 Gabriele Horn, “Vorwort / Foreword,” in Von Mäusen und Menschen/Of Mice and Men, 13; Nancy Spector, “Tierversuche/Animal Testing: Ein Interview mit/Interview with Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni, and Ali Subotnick,” in Of Mice and Men, 59. 77 Mears, “Entlang der Auguststraße/Along Auguststrasse,” 92. 78 Ibid., 95. 79 Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche ‘Viehwaggon,’” part 2, 10. See also Gottwaldt, “Der deutsche ‘Viehwaggon,’” part 1, 28–­30. 80 Wlodarski, “Testimonial Aesthetics,” 135. 81 See David Chidester, Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).

Chapter 2: Thresholds of Initiation 1 Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, “Acts of Impersonation: Barbaric Spaces as Theater,” in

Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art, ed. Norman L. Kleeblatt (New York: The Jewish Museum; New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001), 30. 2 Debórah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt, Auschwitz: 1270 to the Present (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996), 361. 3 Jonathan Huener, Auschwitz, Poland and the Politics of Commemoration, 1945–­1979 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003). 4 See Eric Joseph Epstein and Philip Rosen, Dictionary of the Holocaust: Biography, Geography, and Terminology (Newport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997), 11. 5 Ibid., 76. 6 Josef Goebbels, for example, used the first portion in the context of his definition of socialism in a speech on May 11, 1930, as cited and interpreted by Wolfgang Mieder: “‘Wahrer Sozialismus heisst nicht: allen das Gleiche, sondern: jedem das Seine’ (‘True socialism does not mean to all the same, but to each his own’). ‘To all the same’ would have meant that the Jewish population might be treated the same as the Aryans, but the proverb ‘To each his own’ gave the National Socialists proverbial strength to separate the Jewish people.” See Wolfgang Mieder, Proverbs Are Never Out of Season: Popular Wisdom in the Modern Age (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 235. Wolfgang Brückner traces “Jedem das Seine” to Prussia, in 1701, where it served as the slogan of the Order of the Black Eagle. See Wolfgang Brückner, “Arbeit macht frei”: Herkunft und Hintergrund der KZ-­Devise (Opladen: Leske + Budrich, 1998), 90. 7 Brückner, “Arbeit macht frei,” 31. 8 Henry Friedlander, “The Manipulation of Language,” in The Holocaust: Ideology, Bureaucracy, and Genocide, ed. Henry Friedlander and Sybil Milton (Millwood, NJ: Kraus International, 1980), 103. 9 See Mieder, Proverbs, 3–­17. 10 Brückner, “Arbeit macht frei,” 52, 60ff, 63. 11 Alf Lüdtke, “German Work and German Workers: The Impact of Symbols on the Exclusion of Jews in Nazi-­Germany,” in Probing the Depths of German Antisemitism:

Notes to Pages 73–79  •  203

German Society and the Persecution of the Jews, 1933–­1941, ed. David Bankier (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000), 304. 12 Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 29–­30. 13 Werner Hamacher, “Working through Working,” trans. Matthew T. Hartman, Modernism/Modernity 3, no. 1 ( January 1996): 27, http://​muse​.jhu​.edu​.ezproxy​.fiu​ .edu/​journals/​modernism​-­­modernity/​v003/​3​.1hamacher​.html. 14 Hamacher, “Working,” 50n4. Hamacher cites Mein Kampf (Munich, 1942), 326, as the source for the quotation regarding the nature of work. 15 Lüdtke, “German Work,” 305–­306. 16 Ibid., 306. 17 See Alf Lüdtke, “‘The Honor of Labor:’ Industrial Workers and the Power of Symbols under National Socialism,” in Nazism and German Society, 1933–­1945, ed. David F. Crew (London: Routledge, 1994), 67–­109. 18 Brückner, “Arbeit macht frei,” 78. 19 Mieder, Proverbs, 241. Mieder notes, as well, here that Bergmann failed to recognize that “German Jews knew the same proverb as ‘Arbeit is kaan Charpe [cherpah, hebr. Schande (shame)].’” 20 Brückner, “Arbeit macht frei,” 83. 21 Epstein and Rosen, Dictionary of the Holocaust, 143. 22 Richard Wires, Terminology of the Third Reich (Muncie, IN: Ball State University Press, 1985), 4. 23 Lili Meier, text by Peter Hellman, The Auschwitz Album: A Book Based upon an Album Discovered by a Concentration Camp Survivor (New York: Random House, 1981), vii. 24 Hirsch adds, “‘Arbeit macht frei’ remains perhaps the greatest trick of National Socialism, enabling the killers to lure their victims willingly and cooperatively into the camp and later into the gas chamber. It is a lie, but also a diabolical truth: freedom is both the very small possibility of survival through work, and the freedom of death.” See Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory, 116 25 Hamacher, “Working,” 27–­28. 26 Brückner, “Arbeit macht frei,” 92. Thanks to Evelyn Zegenhagen for translation assistance. 27 Otto Friedrich, The Kingdom of Auschwitz (New York: Harper Perennial, 1994), 2–­3. 28 “Dachau Song (Dachau Lied),” Music of the Holocaust: Highlights from the Collection, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, http://​www​.ushmm​.org/ ​exhibition/​music/​detail​.php​?content​=​dachau. 29 Unattributed note to “Dachau Lied: ‘Arbeit Macht Frei,’” words by Jura Soyfer, music and trans. by Herbert Zipper (Wien: Verlag Lafite, 1993). 30 “Dachau Lied: ‘Arbeit Macht Frei,’” words by Jura Soyfer, music and trans. by Herbert Zipper (Wien: Verlag Lafite, n.d.). 31 “The Original Arbeit macht frei Inscription Is Back in Place at the Auschwitz Gate,” Auschwitz-­Birkenau Memorial and Museum, news archive, May 23, 2006, http://​en​ .auschwitz​.org/​m/​index​.php​?option​=​com​_content​&​task​=​view​&​id​=​91​&​Itemid​=​8. 32 Dwork and van Pelt, Auschwitz, 360. 33 During this period, incidentally, the entrance to the living area was exactly where today tour buses and cars enter the camp-­memorial’s parking lot—­an observation

204  •  Notes to Pages 79–89

received with some confusion by March of the Living participants whom I accompanied in 1994. 34 Dwork and van Pelt, Auschwitz, 361–­362; Dwork and van Pelt, “Reclaiming Auschwitz,” in Holocaust Remembrance: The Shapes of Memory, ed. Geoffrey Hartman (Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, 1994), 236–­237. 35 The Liberation of Auschwitz 1945, DVD, directed by Irmgard von zur Muhlen (Germany: Chronos Films, 1985), distributed by The National Center for Jewish Film, Waltham, MA. 36 As another example of this inaccuracy, the visual record of the gate’s position as a portal to liberation is further complicated by another photograph, by Olga Ignatovitch, published in an authoritative volume of wartime images with the caption reading, “Liberation of prisoners of Majdanek, 1944.” See A. Wartonov et al., eds., Antologiia Sovetskoi Fotografii, 1941–­1945 [Anthology of Soviet Photography, 1941–­ 45] (Moscow: Planeta, 1987), 231. Thanks to David Shneer for calling this photograph to my attention. 37 Markus Brüderlin, “Frank Stella and Ornament,” in Frank Stella: The Retrospective, Works 1958–­2012, ed. Frank Stella, Claudia Bodin, and Markus Brüderlin (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2012), 102. 38 Lisa Saltzman, “‘Avant-­Garde and Kitsch’ Revisited: On the Ethics of Representation,” in Mirroring Evil, ed. Kleeblatt, 58–­59. 39 One can also draw a direct link between Stella’s minimalism and minimalism in music, both of which emphasize the nature of the work as object. Wlodarski suggests that, “Just as Frank Stella rejected programmatic approaches to art, declaring his painting to be based ‘on the fact that only what can be seen there is there—­it really is an object,’” minimalist composers did something comparable: “Repetition in particular narrowed the focus to a singular musical cell, eschewing counterpoint and developmental tendencies in such a way as to reference only the musical object at hand.” See Wlodarski, “Testimonial Aesthetics,” 105. 40 Samuel Hynes, “D-­Day, in History and in Memory,” New York Times, June 6, 2004, Week in Review, 13. 41 Art Spiegelman, The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (New York: Pantheon Books, 1996), 159. 42 Cited in Marianne Hirsch, “Surviving Images: Holocaust Photographs and the Work of Postmemory,” in Visual Culture and the Holocaust, ed. Barbie Zelizer (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001), 244n26. See also Art Spiegelman, The Complete Maus, produced by Elizabeth Scarborough (New York: Voyager, 1994), CD-­ROM, in which the author discusses the process of creating a page of Maus, using this one as an example. 43 Hirsch, “Surviving Images,” 228. 44 See Judy Chicago, with photography by Donald Woodman, The Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light (New York: Viking, 1993), 154–­158 and plates 18–­20. 45 See James E. Young, At Memory’s Edge: After-­Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 90–­93. 46 “The Gateways of the Germans [Berlin 1997],” http://​www​.knitz​.net/​index​.php​ ?option​=c​ om​_content​&t​ ask​=​view​&​id​=​25​&​Itemid​=​32​&​lang​=​en. Although Hoheisel, in a 2011 interview in the online Habitus: A Diaspora Journal, suggests the projection came first: “Why do you keep returning to the Brandenburg Gate?”

Notes to Pages 89–96  •  205

“My first project there involved projecting an image of the gate at Auschwitz onto the Brandenburg Gate. It was a very important work for me. With my education, I grew up with the Brandenburg Gate as a very powerful symbol. As I learned more and worked on this light installation, I felt the gate shrinking and shrinking, getting smaller until it was just a normal piece of architecture. All the symbolic value disappeared. As a child, you grow up with enormous myths. By the end of this process, it was just another bit of building.” “Finally, you proposed to blow it up.” “I felt that the Holocaust memorial in Germany had to be different than any other Holocaust memorial in the world. It could not just be about remembering the six million victims. In Germany it has to deal with the perpetrators. It has to discuss the German role in the event. So the question was: Would the Germans stand the loss of their national symbol, especially right after the reunification? “When tourist buses go past the gate today, they give a little talk about this crazy artist who wanted to blow it up as a Holocaust memorial. It’s kind of a victory. “But in reality, if I had won the competition and actually had to do it—­I’m not sure I could live as the man who destroyed the Brandenburg Gate.” In http://​ habitusmag​.com/​2011/​01/​2684/​a​-conversation​-with​-horst​-hoheisel/​2/ (website discontinued on December 6, 2013). 47 For more on Freud’s concept of the screen memory, and its relationship to multidirectional memory, see Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009), 12–­16. 48 USHMM folder: Exhibit Segments and Copy, Divisions and Floorplans, accession no. 2003.109 Box 1/1, PE Text Edits (Greenwald), “Exhibition Story Outline, Presented to the Content Committee, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, May 11, 1988,” pp. 1, 10. 49 See Stier, Committed to Memory, 159; Janina Struk, Photographing the Holocaust: Interpretations of the Evidence (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2004), 189. 50 See Ruth Margalit, “Should Auschwitz Be a Site for Selfies?” The New Yorker, June 26, 2014, http://​www​.newyorker​.com/​culture/​culture​-desk/​should​-auschwitz​ -be​-a​-site​-for​-selfies​?mbid​=​gnep​&​google​_editors​_picks​=​true. 51 Dan Stone, “Chaos and Continuity: Representations of Auschwitz,” in Representations of Auschwitz: 50 Years of Photographs, Paintings, and Graphics, ed. Yasmin Doosry (Oswiecim: Auschwitz-­Birkenau State Museum, 1995), 29. 52 Quoted in Edward T. Linenthal, “Locating Holocaust Memory: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,” in American Sacred Space, ed. David Chidester and Edward T. Linenthal (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), 241. 53 Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory, 116. On the same page, Hirsch mistakenly claims that “In the pictures, the gate of Auschwitz I is always closed,” which supports her suggestion of an implied desire on the part of the second generation to open the gate. 54 Melvin Jules Bukiet, ed., Nothing Makes You Free: Writings by Descendants of Jewish Holocaust Survivors (New York: W. W. Norton, 2002), 14–­16. 55 Phone conversation with Melvin Jules Bukiet, May 20, 2004. 56 Sidra Ezrahi, “Acts of Impersonation,” in Mirroring Evil, ed. Kleeblatt, 30. 57 Tami Katz-­Freiman, “‘Don’t Touch My Holocaust’—­Analyzing the Barometer of Responses: Israeli Artists Challenge the Holocaust Taboo,” in Impossible Images:

206  •  Notes to Pages 98–102

Contemporary Art after the Holocaust, ed. Shelley Hornstein, Laura Levitt, and Laurence J. Silberstein (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 149. 58 Tony Paterson, “Former Neo-­Nazi Jailed for Auschwitz Sign Theft,” The Independent, December 31, 2010, http://​www​.independent​.co​.uk/​news/​world/​europe/​former​-neonazi​-jailed​-for​-auschwitz​-sign​-theft​-2172533​.html; “Auschwitz Sign Thieves Sentenced,” Polskie Radio / Esperanto, March 3, 2010, http://​www2​.polskieradio​.pl/​ eo/​dokument​.aspx​?iid​=​127713. 59 “Conservationists at the Memorial Put the Arbeit macht frei Sign Back Together,” Auschwitz-­Birkenau Memorial and Museum news archive, May 18, 2011; http://​ auschwitz​.org/​en/​museum/​news/​conservationists​-­­at​-­­the​-­­memorial​-­­put​-­­the​-­­arbeit​ -­­macht​-­­frei​-­­sign​-­­back​-­­together​,826​.html. 60 “Meeting XXI: June 1–­­2, 2011,” IAC Meetings, Auschwitz-­Birkenau Memorial and Museum, http://​auschwitz​.org/​en/​museum/​auschwitz​-­­council/​iac​-­­meetings/​ meeting​-­­xxi​-­­june​-­­1–­2-­2011,21.html. 61 Martin Amis, Time’s Arrow, or The Memory of the Offense (New York: Harmony Books, 1991), 122.

Chapter 3: From Innocence to Experience 1 Francine Prose, Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife (New York: HarperCol-

lins, 2009), 85.

2 Alvin H. Rosenfeld, “Anne Frank and the Future of Holocaust Memory,” Joseph

and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture, October 14, 2004, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Occasional Papers (2005): 1–­2. 3 Ibid., 2, 3. 4 For a theoretical discussion of Frank’s story’s “translatability,” see Laura L. Quinn, “The Afterlife of Anne Frank: A Space for Translation in the Anne Frank House,” parallax 5, no. 3 (1999): 47–­57. 5 See Jeffrey Shandler, “From Diary to Book: Text, Object, Structure,” in Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory, ed. Barbara Kirshenblatt-­Gimblett and Jeffrey Shandler (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012), 53. Shandler notes here that Frank “wrote this account not when the Franks first arrived there but when she revised the diary almost two years later”; Sally Charnow specifies that Frank had described only the rooms of the Annex in the first version of the diary entry for July 9, 1942, adding descriptions of the entire building in her revisions (Sally Charnow, “Critical Thinking: Scholars Reread the Diary,” in Anne Frank Unbound, ed. Kirshenblatt-­Gimblett and Shandler, 302). These revisions become clear in the different diary versions; compare The Diary of Anne Frank, The Revised Critical Edition, ed. David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom, trans. Arnold J. Pomerans, B. M. Mooyaart-­Doubleday, and Susan Massotty (New York: Doubleday, 2003), 231, hereafter cited as RCE, version “a,” with versions “b” and “c” on 232–­234, along with the floor plan on 233. Shandler also describes a CD-­ROM that permits an enhanced virtual visit to the Anne Frank House; much of this CD-­ ROM is available online at the Anne Frank House site; see 57–­58. 6 Hans Westra, “Foreword,” in Anne Frank House: A Museum with a Story (Amsterdam: Anne Frank House, 2001). The Anne Frank Stichting originally published this volume in 1999 to commemorate the official opening of the newly

Notes to Pages 102–106  •  207

renovated Anne Frank House by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (see David Barnouw, “Anne Frank and Academia,” in RCE, 103). 7 James E. Young, “The Anne Frank House: Holland’s Memorial ‘Shrine of the Book,’” in The Art of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in History, ed. James E. Young (Munich: Prestel-­Verlag; New York: The Jewish Museum, 1994), 131. 8 See Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 54; Young, “Anne Frank House,” in Young, Art of Memory, 133–­134; Prose, Anne Frank, 161. 9 See Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 55. 10 Westra, “Foreword.” There is some discrepancy concerning the year the photographs of the furnished rooms were taken, as Anne Frank House, 242, gives 1957 as the year. 11 Quinn, “Afterlife of Anne Frank,” 50. The quotation by Otto Frank is from an internal bulletin of the Anne Frank Center, courtesy of the Anne Frank Stichting, cited by Young, “Anne Frank House,” in Young, Art of Memory, 134. 12 Prose, Anne Frank, 162. See also Young, “Anne Frank House,” in Young, Art of Memory, 136: “The attic, Anne’s inner sanctum, where she wrote most of her diary, is now completely closed to visitors; it remains a space unknown to the masses, unreachable.” 13 Lee Magill, “Five Things to Do at the Newly Revamped Anne Frank Center USA,” Time Out New York Kids, March 16, 2012, http://​www​.timeout​.com/​new​-york​ -kids/​museums​-attractions/​five​-things​-to​-do​-at​-the​-newly​-revamped​-anne​-frank​ -center​-usa. 14 “Permanent Exhibit,” Anne Frank Center USA, http://​annefrank​.com/​current​ -exhibit/. 15 Edward Rothstein, “Playing Cat and Mouse with Searing History,” New York Times, October 14, 2013, C5. 16 Ibid. 17 See Young, “Anne Frank House,” in Young, Art of Memory, 136; Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 55. 18 Young, “Anne Frank House,” in Young, Art of Memory, 134. 19 Ibid., 136. 20 It also invites other imaginative associations: writer and comedian David Sedaris engages in a fantasy in which he buys the Annex as his own apartment. “We entered the annex behind the famous bookcase, and, on crossing the threshold, I felt . . . an absolute certainty that this was the place for me. That it would be mine. The entire building would have been impractical and far too expensive, but the part where Anne Frank and her family had lived, their triplex, was exactly the right size, and adorable, which is something they never tell you.” See David Sedaris, “Possession,” The New Yorker 80, no. 9 (April 19, 2004): 100. For a reaction to Sedaris’s essay and other attempts at “Anne Frank” humor, see Edward Portnoy, “Anne Frank on Crank: Comic Anxieties,” in Anne Frank Unbound, ed. Kirshenblatt-­Gimblett and Shandler, 309–­323. 21 Quinn, “Afterlife of Anne Frank,” 54. 22 Tony Kushner, “‘I Want to Go on Living after My Death’: The Memory of Anne Frank,” in War and Memory in the Twentieth Century, ed. Martin Evans and Ken Lunn (Oxford: Berg, 1997), 16. It is not clear if Kushner is speaking of worldwide popularity or only Great Britain. 23 See Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 26.

208  •  Notes to Pages 106–109

24 Prose, Anne Frank, 13. 25 Charnow, “Critical Thinking,” 293. 26 See The Diary of Anne Frank, The Critical Edition, ed. David Barnouw and Gerrold

van der Stroom, trans. Arnold J. Pomerans and B. M. Mooyaart-­Doubleday (New York: Doubleday, 1989). The “c” version is identical to the translation published as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, translated by B. M. Mooyaart-­Doubleday (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1952). 27 Van der Stroom calls this edition version “d” and is critical of its title and claim to offer new material. See Gerrold van der Stroom, “Anne Frank and Her Diaries,” in Dutch Jewry: Its History and Secular Culture (1500–­2000), ed. Jonathan Israel and Reinier Salverda (Leiden: Brill, 2002), 310–­311. 28 Prose writes: “The inclusion of Anne’s reflection on female anatomy, as well as the fact that the pacing in the longer Definitive Edition is slower than in the earlier edition of The Diary of a Young Girl, are likely among the reasons that the shorter, more accessible 1952 version is the one still taught in schools” (Prose, Anne Frank, 154). 29 Melissa Müller, Anne Frank: The Biography, trans. Rita and Robert Kimber, 2nd US edition (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2013), 221, citing the diary entry of September 21, 1942, version “a.” 30 “Anne Frank the Writer: An Unfinished Story,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, http://​www​.ushmm​.org/​museum/​exhibit/​online/​af/​htmlsite/​story​ _complete​.html. Prose also mentions this episode; see Prose, Anne Frank, 11. 31 RCE, 600, “a” version. March 29, 1944, is also the date of Frank’s last rewritten entry (“b” version). For a succinct summary of the different versions, see Hyman A. Enzer and Sandra Solotaroff-­Enzer, “The Diary Versions,” in Anne Frank: Reflections on Her Life and Legacy, ed. Hyman A. Enzer and Sandra Solotaroff-­Enzer (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000), xix–­xx. 32 Enzer and Solotaroff-­Enzer, “The Diary Versions,” xix. 33 RCE, 591, “a” version. 34 RCE, 609, “c” version. See also Gerrold van der Stroom, “The Diaries, Het Achterhuis and the Translations,” in RCE, 60. 35 RCE, 625, “a” version. Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy served as prime minister of the wartime Dutch cabinet in exile in London. 36 RCE, 638, “a” version; Sylvia P. Iskander translates the title of the magazine Prinsen as “Princess” (see Sylvia P. Iskander, “Anne Frank’s Reading: A Retrospective,” in Anne Frank: Reflections, ed. Enzer and Solotaroff-­Enzer, 105). The “c” version, presumably the result of Otto Frank’s revisions since there is no “b” version, reads, “I want to send in to some paper or other to see if they will take one of my stories, under a pseudonym, of course.” Frank is writing about her “Tales” here. 37 RCE, 669, “a” version; the “c” version is nearly identical. 38 RCE, 675, “a” version. There is also an interesting long entry dated November 7, 1942, in “c,” with no “a” version, in which, following quite a bit of criticism of her mother, Frank wonders who will ever read “these letters,” her many ideas, and the refuge the diary offers. See RCE, 314–­317, esp. 317; for a discussion of the dating of this entry, see RCE, 192n2. 39 Sylvia P. Iskander, “Anne Frank’s Reading,” in Anne Frank: Reflections, ed. Enzer and Solotaroff-­Enzer, 105. Iskander’s essay concludes with a fascinating appendix listing

Notes to Pages 109–111  •  209

books mentioned in the diary, as well as a list of incomplete diary references to authors or works; see 106–­109. 40 Charnow, “Critical Thinking,” 305. Charnow cites Berteke Waaldijk, “Reading Anne Frank as a Woman,” Women’s Studies International Forum 16, no. 4 (1993): 333–­334. 41 Berteke Waaldijk observes that the first time Frank addresses her diary as “Kitty,” on September 22, 1942, version “a,” is also the same day she mentions the Joop ter Huil series for the first time. See Berteke Waaldijk, “Reading Anne Frank as a Woman,” in Anne Frank: Reflections, ed. Enzer and Solotaroff-­Enzer, 116. 42 Prose, Anne Frank, 91. Charnow adds: “Indeed, in the first version of the diary Anne invents a cohort of girls to whom she addressed her entries, thereby stimulating the socializing with her same-­sex peer group that she missed in hiding. Anne wrote diary entries in the form of letters to a range of imaginary correspondents: Conny, Jetty, Emmy, Marianne, as well as Kitty, the name she later chose to address all the entries in her revised version of the diary. . . . By choosing to address her diary to fictional characters, Anne Frank consciously lured the boundary between her actual circumstances and her potent imaginative life” (Charnow, “Critical Thinking,” 298–­299). Barnouw notes that “Anne uses the names of many of the characters in this series: Pop, Kees, Emile, Connie, Bobbel, Pien, Loutje, etc. . . . One of the characters is none other than Kitty” (see David Barnouw, “Anne Frank and Academia,” in RCE, 105). 43 Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 29–­30. 44 Charnow, “Critical Thinking,” 301, 302. 45 Shandler notes, “Covers of published editions of the diary sometimes depict the plaid covering of the original diary’s first notebook, thereby intimating to readers that opening the book parallels opening Anne’s actual diary” (Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 45–­46). Prose writes, “How amazing, a casual reader might say, how thoroughly unlikely that such a penetrating, dramatic, and structurally ambitious work should have evolved, on its own, from the natural and spontaneous jottings that a young girl added, every day or every few days, to her diary. Such a reader would have been right, or partly right, to wonder about that naturalness and that offhand improvisatory spirit” (Prose, Anne Frank, 128). See also Laureen Nussbaum, “Anne Frank” in Anne Frank: Reflections, ed. Enzer and Solotaroff-­Enzer, 24. On the use and representation of the diary as material object, see also Leshu Torchin, “Anne Frank’s Moving Images,” in Anne Frank Unbound, ed. Kirshenblatt-­Gimblett and Shandler, 113–­116. 46 Miep Gies and Alison Leslie Gold, “The Darkest Days,” in Anne Frank: Reflections, ed. Enzer and Solotaroff-­Enzer, 60. 47 Nussbaum, “Anne Frank,” 24. 48 Charnow, “Critical Thinking,” 303. 49 Van der Stroom, “The Diaries,” in RCE, 63. Shandler adds, “Otto Frank also removed some material from the diaries that he deemed either extraneous of offensive to the memories of the other who had hidden in the Annex and that died during the war” (Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 30). Prose suggests it is not likely that many aside from the most “devoted fans” would be willing to work through “the bubbly longueurs of the ‘a’ version” (Prose, Anne Frank, 131). 50 According to van der Stroom, based on Otto Frank’s testimony, the first, partial translation into German was lost; the second and third ones survived, the former residing with the Anne Frank Stichting, and a photocopy of the latter is at the

210  •  Notes to Pages 111–116

Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (see van der Stroom, “The Diaries,” in RCE, 62–­64 and 75n16 and n24). 51 Prose, Anne Frank, 75. 52 Gerrold van der Stroom, “Anne Frank and Her Diaries,” 305. 53 Prose, Anne Frank, 74–­75; see van der Stroom, “The Diaries,” in RCE, 61–­62; p. 60 includes a facsimile of Anne Frank’s list of name changes. 54 See Müller, Anne Frank: The Biography, 228; Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 31. 55 Müller, Anne Frank: The Biography, 228. 56 Cynthia Ozick, “Who Owns Anne Frank?” The New Yorker (October 6, 1997): 76–­87. 57 Charnow, “Critical Thinking,” 303. 58 Laureen Nussbaum, “Anne’s Diary Incomplete: How Important are the Five Withheld Pages?” Anne Frank Magazine (Amsterdam: Anne Frank House, 1999): 26. 59 Prose, Anne Frank, 174. Shandler adds: “Otto Frank’s redactions might also be understood as continuing his wartime role of safeguarding the diary. While in hiding, he explained in interviews, Anne would give him the diary at night for safekeeping, and he kept it locked in a briefcase by his bed” (Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 43). 60 Charnow, “Critical Thinking,” 303, 304. 61 Nussbaum, “Anne Frank,” 28; see also Prose, Anne Frank, 76. 62 Prose, Anne Frank, 78. 63 Van der Stroom, “The Diaries,” in RCE, 70. 64 Prose, Anne Frank, 80. 65 These included entries on “the mutual touching of breasts, [on] menstruation, and [on] Franz Liszt.” Van der Stroom, “The Diaries,” in RCE, 74. 66 David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom, “Afterword,” in RCE, 186, 187. 67 Ozick, “Who Owns Anne Frank?” 82. 68 Alvin H. Rosenfeld, “Anne Frank—­And Us: Finding the Right Words,” Reconstruction 2, no. 2 (1993): 87. 69 Ozick, “Who Owns Anne Frank?” 79. 70 Rabbi Julia Neuberger, “Foreword,” Anne Frank in the World, 1929–­1945, rev. ed. (New York: Knopf, 2001), unpaginated; italics in original. Marianne Hirsch adds, “Anne Frank continues to function in this way [engendering adolescent identification] for generations of children who identify with her so unproblematically as to write letters to her for school assignments and friend her on Facebook.” See Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture after the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 161–­162. 71 Prose, Anne Frank, 171. 72 Rosenfeld, “Anne Frank—­And Us,” 88. In a published reaction to Rosenfeld’s essay Lawrence Langer concurs, noting, “Anne Frank’s Diary is so appealing because it is the painless first chapter of a painful story that Anne did not live to complete. It is the manageable portion of her narrative” (Lawrence L. Langer, “The Holocaust and Us,” Reconstruction 2, no. 3 [1994]: 91). 73 In the most extreme historical attempts to transform Frank’s death, Rosenfeld notes how authors like Ernst Schnabel maintain that Frank “died ‘peacefully, feeling that nothing bad was happening to her’ [and that a]ccording to Storm Jameson . . . she died ‘with a profound smile . . . of happiness and faith.’ . . . The fact is, we do not know how Anne Frank died, but given the awful conditions that prevailed at Bergen-­Belsen in the spring of 1945, it is difficult to imagine that anyone there could

Notes to Pages 116–118  •  211

die an easy or peaceful death. Nevertheless . . . we have been given an Anne Frank of the beatitudes, a girl whose buoyant spirits enabled her to transcend the misery that brought others down” (Alvin H. Rosenfeld, “The Anne Frank We Remember,” Dimensions 5, no. 1 [1989]: 11). Cynthia Ozick boldly suggests that the diary “cannot count as Anne Frank’s story. A story may not be said to be a story if the end is missing. And because the end is missing, the story of Anne Frank in the fifty years since ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ was first published has been bowdlerized, distorted, transmuted, traduced, reduced; it has been infantilized, Americanized, homogenized, sentimentalized; falsified, kitschified, and, in fact, blatantly and arrogantly denied” (Ozick, “Who Owns Anne Frank?” 78). 74 Nussbaum, “Anne Frank,” 29–­30. This statement is excerpted from a paper Nussbaum presented in 1996. 75 Van der Stroom, “Anne Frank and Her Diaries,” 306. 76 Ibid., 311. Prose argues that the “publicity surrounding the more reader-­friendly Definitive Edition implied that this was the English-­language reader’s first chance to learn more about Anne than her father had chosen to reveal. The suggestion was that the hidden had finally been made public, and a certain amount of prurient interest was generated by Anne’s disquisition on female genitalia” (Prose, Anne Frank, 153). 77 Van der Stroom, “Anne Frank and Her Diaries,” 313. Italics in original. In his introduction to the Tales in RCE, van der Stroom writes, “Now that The Diary of Anne Frank and Tales from the Secret Annex have been brought together for the first time in the Revised Critical Edition, Anne Frank finally has her Collected Works. It is the least we can do for the twentieth century’s most famous writer” (Gerrold van der Stroom, “Introduction” to Tales from the Secret Annex and Cady’s Life, ed. Gerrold van der Stroom, trans. Susan Massotty, in RCE, 731). 78 “Anne Frank’s Writings to be On View for United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 10th Anniversary,” press releases, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, http://​ www​.ushmm​.org/​information/​press/​press​-releases/​anne​-franks​-writings​-to​-be​-on​ -view​-for​-united​-states​-holocaust​-memorial​-mus. 79 “Anne Frank the Writer: An Unfinished Journey,” final report, USHMM, August 1, 2004, unpaginated. 80 Ibid. 81 “Give,” in Tales from the Secret Annex and Cady’s Life, in RCE, 794; the essay was presented in the exhibition in an animated version that offered an actor’s voice reading through a translation of the essay while each line of handwritten Dutch text in a facsimile of Frank’s notebook is visibly transformed into English type. “Anne Frank the Writer: An Unfinished Story,” online exhibition, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, http://​www​.ushmm​.org/​exhibition/​anne​-­­frank/​htmlsite/​ index​.html. A note to the published version in RCE says the title is “[b]ased on one of Anne’s grandmother’s favorite sayings, which was often quoted by the Frank family: ‘People who give will never be poor’” (“Give,” in Tales from the Secret Annex and Cady’s Life, in RCE, 794). 82 Gerrold van der Stroom, “Introduction,” Tales from the Secret Annex and Cady’s Life, in RCE, 728. 83 There remained in the exhibition a certain degree of fetishization of Frank and, in particular, of the physical diary, viewed by many visitors as “something of a sacred relic, capable of effecting redemption . . . purify[ying] and sav[ing] a corrupted world” (Sara R. Horowitz, “Literary Afterlives of Anne Frank,” in Anne Frank

212  •  Notes to Pages 118–125

Unbound, ed. Kirshenblatt-­Gimblett and Shandler, 219). For another reaction to the exhibition, see L. J. Nicoletti, “No Child Left Behind: Anne Frank Exhibits, American Abduction Narratives, and Nazi Bogeymen,” in Visualizing the Holocaust: Documents, Aesthetics, Memory, ed. David Bathrick, Brad Prager, and Michael D. Richardson (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2008), 104–­107. 84 Müller, Biography, 231. (And see below.) 85 Henry R. Huttenbach, “The Cult of Anne Frank: Returning to Basics,” in Anne Frank in the World: Essays and Reflections, ed. Carol Rittner (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1998), 82. 86 There is substantial literature on the “Warsaw Ghetto Boy.” See especially Richard Raskin, A Child at Gunpoint: A Case Study in the Life of a Photo (Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press, 2004) and Dan Porat, The Boy: A Holocaust Story (New York: Hill and Wang, 2010). 87 Marianne Hirsch, Generation of Postmemory, 156. Hirsch argues that it is the photograph of the boy from the Warsaw Ghetto that is “the one picture that signals and evokes the Holocaust in the contemporary cultural imaginary. . . . [I]t is not an exaggeration to say that, assuming the archetypal role of Jewish (and universal) victimization, the boy in the Warsaw ghetto has become the poster child of the Holocaust” (128–­129). Although I would not disagree that the Warsaw Ghetto boy’s image is iconic, I would argue that it is because we know so much more about Anne Frank’s identity, which facilitates greater identification with her, that she is actually the iconic victim of the Holocaust. 88 Prose, Anne Frank, 84. 89 RCE, 302, “a” version. In a way, as evidenced by the “Anne” exhibition at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, she did finally get to Hollywood. 90 Menno Metselaar and Ruud van der Rol, Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures, from the Archives of the Anne Frank House, trans. Arnold J. Pomerans (New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2009), 103. 91 Antonia White, review of The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, The New Statesman (May 1953), cited in Prose, Anne Frank, 85 (as 1952). White is using the pseudonym for the van Pels family here. 92 In the ABC television miniseries, Anne Frank: The Whole Story, we see Frank receive the autograph book as a present on the morning of her birthday and immediately paste a photo of herself into the inside cover; this photo, however, is of the actress playing Frank, posing for the camera, chin on left hand, holding a fountain pen in the right, as if in the act of writing. See “Branded,” Anne Frank, DVD, directed by Robert Dornheim (Burbank, CA: Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2001). 93 Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 33. According to David Barnouw, following the release of the 1959 film The Diary of Anne Frank, Millie Perkins’s image, as the actress whose career was defined by the starring role, “even graced the cover of the American edition of Anne’s diary for a long time” (David Barnouw, “Anne Frank and Film,” in Anne Frank: Reflections, ed. Enzer and Solotaroff-­Enzer, 169). 94 Sidney Bolkosky, “‘Voices’ of Anne Frank,” in Anne Frank in the World, ed. Rittner, 90. 95 Albert H. Friedlander, “The Resonance of Anne Frank in Our Time,” in Anne Frank in the World, ed. Rittner, 12–­13. 96 See Anne Frank in the World, 1929–­1945, compiled by the Anne Frank House (New York: Knopf, 1985). See also Rittner, ed., Anne Frank in the World, a collection of

Notes to Pages 125–136  •  213

essays originating as an educational aid for the preparation of students for the exhibition’s visit to Northern Ireland. 97 Prose, Anne Frank, 84. 98 Victor Levie, “The Photo Selection,” in Anne Frank and Family: Photographs by Otto Frank (Amsterdam: Anne Frank Stichting, 2004), 3. 99 Jan van Kooten, “The Photo Albums,” in Anne Frank and Family, 12. Shandler counts nineteen photographs pasted by the author into her first diary notebook (“From Diary to Book,” 51). 100 Van Kooten, “The Photo Albums,” in Anne Frank and Family, 12. 101 Prose, Anne Frank, 84. 102 Prose implies that Otto Frank’s lack of passion for his wife is reflected in his photography: “In photographs of the Franks, charismatic, handsome Otto and his relatively plain wife appear to have accidentally wound up in the same frame. Otto’s snapshots of his daughters vastly outnumber those of Edith” (Prose, Anne Frank, 76). It may also be the case that, like many father-­photographers, he found capturing the growth of his children in their daily joys and explorations simply more engaging than photographing his spouse. 103 Hirsch, Generation of Postmemory, 35. Hirsch is writing here about Art Spiegelman’s use of family photos in Maus. For a fascinating reading of and engagement with the Tower of Faces, see Laura Levitt, American Jewish Loss after the Holocaust (New York: New York University Press, 2007). 104 Hirsch, Generation of Postmemory, 39. 105 Levie, “The Photo Selection,” in Anne Frank and Family, 4. 106 Ibid., 4. 107 Anne Frank and Family, inside front flap. On the issue of backshadowing, see Michael André Bernstein, Foregone Conclusions: Against Apocalyptic History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994). 108 Wall label, from Anne Frank: A Private Photo Album, Kraushaar Galleries, New York, transcribed from author’s notes, June 14, 2004. 109 See “Transcript,” “Anne Frank the Writer: An Unfinished Story,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, http://​www​.ushmm​.org/​exhibition/​anne​-­­frank/​ htmlsite/​story​_complete​.html. See also Anne Frank in the World, 1929–­1945, 75. 110 See Toby Sterling, “Marbles That Belonged to Anne Frank Re-­discovered,” AP The Big Story, February 4, 2014, http://​bigstory​.ap​.org/​article/​marbles​-­­belonged​-­­anne​ -­­frank​-­­rediscovered. 111 Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 52; L. J. Nicoletti, “No Child Left Behind,” in Visualizing the Holocaust: Documents, Aesthetics, Memory, ed. Bathrick, Prager, and Richardson, 106; see also RCE, 304. 112 Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 52. See also Malkah Fleisher, “‘Photograph’ Marks Anne Frank’s 80th Birthday,” Israel National News, June 8, 2009, http://​www​.israelnationalnews​.com/​News/​News​.aspx/​131761​#​.UghRmBZpeBX. 113 Shandler, “From Diary to Book,” 52, citing “Forensic Art: Age Progression and Regression,” phojoe​.com, http://​www​.phojoe​.com/​forensic​_compositing​.html. 114 Friedlander, “The Resonance,” in Anne Frank in the World, ed. Rittner, 11. 115 Hirsch, Generation of Postmemory, 160–­161. 116 Ibid., 162–­163. 117 Rachel Schreiber, “Statement,” Anne in New York, http://​www​.rachelschreiber​ .com/​anne/​anne​.html.

214  •  Notes to Pages 136–141

118 For discussions of Schreiber’s series, see Nicoletti, “No Child Left Behind,” 95–­100;

119 120 121

122 123 124

125 126 127

128 129 130 131

132 133 134 135 136 137 138

139 140 141 142 143

and Daniel Belasco, “Suturing In: Anne Frank as Conceptual Model for Visual Art,” in Anne Frank Unbound, ed. Kirshenblatt-­Gimblett and Shandler, 256–­257 and figs. 2 and 3. Hirsch, Generation of Postmemory, 165–­166. Ibid., 167. See Torchin, “Moving Images,” in Anne Frank Unbound, ed. Kirshenblatt-­Gimblett and Shandler, 96. Torchin notes that the first American dramatization of the diary was a televised version by Morton Wishengrad produced by the Jewish Theological Seminary that aired on NBC on November 16, 1952. Rosenfeld, “Anne Frank and the Future of Holocaust Memory,” 5. Edna Nahshon, “Anne Frank from Page to Stage,” in Anne Frank Unbound, ed. Kirshenblatt-­Gimblett and Shandler, 61. See Hasia R. Diner, We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945–­1962 (New York: New York University Press, 2009). Nahshon, “Page to Stage,” 75; 347n41. Judith E. Doneson, “The American History of Anne Frank’s Diary,” in Anne Frank: Reflections, ed. Enzer and Solotaroff-­Enzer, 124, 127. Rosenfeld, “Anne Frank—­And Us,” 89. Ian Buruma adds, “Anne is a ready-­made icon for those who have turned the Holocaust into a kind of secular religion.” (Ian Buruma, “The Afterlife of Anne Frank,” New York Review of Books 45, no. 3 [February 19, 1998]: 4). James E. Young, Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 109. Ibid., 109–­110. Nahshon, “Page to Stage,” 59. “Too Jewish” is also the title of another provocative Jewish Museum exhibition. See Norman Kleeblatt, ed., Too Jewish? Challenging Traditional Identities (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1997). Doneson, “American History,” 127. See also Nahshon, “Page to Stage,” 67. See Nahshon, “Page to Stage,” 64–­65. Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, The Diary of Anne Frank (New York: Random House, 1956), 171. Lawrence L. Langer, “The Americanization of the Holocaust on Stage and Screen,” in Anne Frank: Reflections, ed. Enzer and Solotaroff-­Enzer, 199. Goodrich and Hackett, Diary, 168, 172, 174. Rosenfeld, “The Anne Frank We Remember,” 11. Alex Sagan, “An Optimistic Icon,” in “Germany in the American Mind: The American Postwar Reception of German Culture,” ed. William Collins Donahue and Peter M. McIsaac, special issue, German Politics and Society 13, no. 3 (Fall 1995): 103. Ozick, “Who Owns Anne Frank?” 81. Nahshon, “Page to Stage,” 82, 88. Buruma, “Afterlife,” 4. For a response to Buruma’s characterization, see Judith Goldstein, “Anne Frank: the Redemptive Myth,” Partisan Review 70, no. 1 (2003): 16–­23. Prose, Anne Frank, 231. RCE, 239, version “a” (dated Friday, August 14, 1942).

Notes to Pages 142–144  •  215 144 Compare Goodrich and Hackett, Diary, 20, to “6. Yellow Star,” The Diary of Anne

145 146 147 148





Frank, directed by George Stevens (1959; Beverly Hills, CA: Twentieth Century Fox, 2009), DVD. However, both the original play and film, near the beginning of Act II, include Anne expressing to Peter, “You like Margot, don’t you? Right from the start you liked her, liked her much better than me.” See Goodrich and Hackett, Diary, 142 and “25. A Date with Peter,” in Stevens, Diary. Compare Goodrich and Hackett, Diary, 24–­25 to “8. A Father’s Gift,” in Stevens, Diary. Torchin, “Moving Images,” 101. Doneson, “American History,” 132. Ibid., 132. Doneson adds that this image of the passive Jewish victim is contrasted with the emerging image of the fighting, heroic Israeli Jew, which serves to further downgrade supposed Jewish weakness and imports guilt to those Jews for their passive reliance on Christians for their own salvation. RCE, 716. Lawrence Langer describes the play’s version of this line as “floating over the audience like a benediction assuring grace after momentary gloom . . . the least appropriate epitaph conceivable for the millions of victims and thousands of survivors of Nazi genocide” (Langer, “Americanization,” 201–­202). For a detailed analysis of this quotation in its original context, see Sagan, “Optimistic Icon,” 96–­ 98. See also Goodrich and Hackett, Diary, 168, 174; and “31. Faith,” and “33. Anne’s Last Entry,” in Stevens, Diary. Prose, Anne Frank, 168. Wendy Kesselman’s adaptation of the play restores some context to Frank’s famous words: they are spoken as a voice-­over, interlaced with the Nazi discovery and arrest of the Annex residents, but followed by a statement that adheres closely to the original continuation of these reflections: “It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering, and death. I see the world slowly being transformed in to a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder which will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions,” without even Frank’s conclusion expressing hope that things will “all come right,” peace will return, and in the meantime, that she would uphold her “ideals.” See Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, The Diary of Anne Frank, newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman (New York: Dramatists Play Service, 2000), 66. Doneson, “American History,” 133. For Bettelheim’s reflections, see Bruno Bettelheim, “The Ignored Lesson of Anne Frank,” in Surviving and Other Essays (New York: Knopf, 1979), 246–­257, an excerpt of which is available in Anne Frank: Reflections, ed. Enzer and Solotaroff-­Enzer, 185–­191. Bettelheim suffers from such an extreme case of backshadowing and discomfort with what he considers Jewish passivity that he criticizes them for not having weapons in the Annex: “Had they had a gun, Mr. Frank could have shot down at least one or two of the Green Police who came for them. . . . Even a butcher knife, which they certainly could have taken with them into hiding, could have been used by them in self-­defense” (Bruno Bettelheim, “The Ignored Lesson of Anne Frank,” 187). Alex Sagan sees this retroactive absolution operating in Germany as well, following the success of both play and film, noting the powerful effect in particular of Frank’s most famous line “projected back onto the diary itself. New printings of this newly discovered bestseller were emblazoned with the words ‘. . . ich glaube an das Gute im Menschen.’” At the same time, Sagan sees “the popularization of Anne Frank

216  •  Notes to Pages 144–152


154 155 156 157

158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169

170 171 172 173

[as] part of a long-­term development toward a more serious contemplation of the Holocaust” (Sagan, “Optimistic Icon,” 104, 105). Rosenfeld, “Anne Frank and the Future of Holocaust Memory,” 14. Torchin adds that the film’s structure “imposes onto Anne’s life a Christian trajectory of martyrdom, the proclamation of faith followed by bodily suffering. As the eight Jews stand in the Annex, awaiting their arrest, Anne’s demeanor suggests a willingness to die for her cause. She does not weep or hide, but stands still, solemn, and upright” (Torchin, “Moving Images,” 103–­104). Indeed, Judith Goldstein sees Frank’s diary and persona as one composite “redemptive myth . . . [which] derives much of its force from a deeply ingrained Christian template. Anne’s story converges on elements of Christian belief and symbolism: a hidden child, a virgin, a betrayal, the Holocaust as Hell, a form of resurrection through words” (Goldstein, “Redemptive Myth,” 16–­17). Doneson, “American History,” 135. Young, Writing and Rewriting, 112. Prose, Anne Frank, 213. Torchin, “Moving Images,” 101–­103 (102 offers an image of a 20th Century Fox promotion for the film, “in which a girl who has never before appeared on the screen is already world famous”). Bettelheim, “Ignored Lesson,” 186. Prose, Anne Frank, 76. Rosenfeld, “Anne Frank and the Future of Holocaust Memory,” 12. Animated versions of the diary appeared in 1979 and 1995 in Japan; the 1995 version was remade in France in 1999. See Torchin, “Moving Images,” 105–­108 and 351n23. Ibid., 120. Ibid., 110. Ibid., 112. Philip Roth, Zuckerman Bound: A Trilogy and Epilogue (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1985), 145–­146. Ibid., 146. Italics in original. Ibid., 147. Ibid., 149–­150. Ibid., 154. Sara Horowitz offers a rich and detailed reading of Roth’s novella and other literary resurrections of Frank, including the reminder that Roth himself brought protagonist Zuckerman and a dying Amy Bellette (no longer as Anne Frank) together again in his 2007 novel Exit Ghost; see Horowitz, “Literary Afterlives of Anne Frank.” Steve Stern, “It Isn’t Even Past,” New York Times Book Review, January 15, 2012, 13. Ibid. Shalom Auslander, Hope: A Tragedy (New York: Riverhead Books, 2012), 26–­27. Ibid., 244. Another recent work, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” the title story in a collection by Nathan Englander, does not retell Frank’s story or imagine her survival but instead uses her as a plot device: two couples spend an afternoon together—­the wives grew up together but have not seen each other in two decades—­and it emerges that they used to play “the Anne Frank game” when they were kids, “‘That, in the event of an American Holocaust, we sometimes talk about which of our Christian friends would hide us.’” The couples decide to play at this “dead serious . . . active pathology” in the course of their day together, with a

Notes to Pages 152–157  •  217

surprising outcome. See Nathan Englander, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank: Stories (New York: Vintage International, 2012), 32. 1 74 For her extended reflections on the notion of “surviving images,” see the chapter of the same name in Hirsch, Generation of Postmemory, 103–­124.

Chapter 4: The Holocaust as an Iconic Number This chapter grew out of a paper presented at “The Social Life of Jewish Numbers” workshop, the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, March 18–­­20, 2012. I am grateful to conveners Michal Kravel-­Tovi and Deborah Dash Moore for their helpful comments at the workshop and on earlier drafts of this chapter and for the fruitful discussions I had with the other participants, especially my co-­panelists, Carol Kidron and Yael Zerubavel, and respondent Geneviève Zubrzycki. 1 A medieval poem often sung at the conclusion of the Passover Seder that asks

participants “Who knows one? Who knows two?” and so on, up to thirteen, and then answers with significant artifacts drawn from the Jewish experience, “One is our God, in the heavens and the earth”; “Two are the tablets of the covenant”; and so on. See, for example, Nahum N. Glatzer, ed., The Passover Haggadah (New York: Schocken, 1989), 114–­117. 2 Hadag Nahash, “Misparim,” in Lazuz (Israel: Levantini, 2003), MP3. Streett’s posture following this last verse may not be correct from a military standpoint: “over ledom” is, technically, a different pose—­hands clenched, at one’s sides—­rather than the more relaxed position he assumes. For the transliteration and translation of the lyrics, aside from the bracketed words, see Lior Burstein, “Misparim/Numbers,” Hebrewsongs​.com, http://​www​.hebrewsongs​.com/​?song​=​misparim. Thanks to Jochanan Stier and Rabbi Andy Shugerman for useful suggestions regarding the translation. The very name of the group, an anagram of the Hebrew title “Nahag Hadash,” “new driver,” printed on signs posted in the rear windows of cars being driven by such neophytes, is an indication of the group’s playful edge. 3 See Raul Hilberg, “The Statistic,” in Unanswered Questions: Nazi Germany and the Genocide of the Jew, ed. François Furet (New York: Schocken, 1989), 155; Peter Black, Senior Historian, USHMM, also cites the Nuremberg trial as the origin of the number (e-­mail message to author, February 24, 2012). 4 Translation quoted by Maj. William Walsh in Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 14 November 1945–­1 October 1946 (Nuremberg, Germany: International Military Tribunal, 1947), 3:570, December 14, 1945, http://​www​.loc​.gov/​rr/​frd/​Military​_Law/​pdf/​NT​_Vol​-III​ .pdf, hereafter cited as IMT followed by volume, page number, and url. The text of Höttl’s affidavit, document 2738-­PS/exhibit USA-­296 is available at IMT, 31:85–­87, http://​www​.loc​.gov/​rr/​frd/​Military​_Law/​pdf/​NT​_Vol​-XXXI​.pdf. 5 IMT, 3:569, http://​www​.loc​.gov/​rr/​frd/​Military​_Law/​pdf/​NT​_Vol​-III​.pdf. 6 “Himmler sei mit dem Bericht nicht zufrieden gewesen, da nach seiner Meinung die Zahl der getoeteten Juden grösser als 6 Millionen sein muesse. Himmler hatte erklaert, dass er einen Mann von seinem statistischen Amt zu Eichmann schicken werde, damit dieser auf Grund des Materials von Eichmann einen neuen Bericht verfasse, wo die genaue Zahl ausgearbeitet werden sollte.” IMT, 31:86, http://​www​ .loc​.gov/​rr/​frd/​Military​_Law/​pdf/​NT​_Vol​-XXXI​.pdf.

218  •  Notes to Pages 158–162

7 IMT, 2:119, http://​www​.loc​.gov/​rr/​frd/​Military​_Law/​pdf/​NT​_Vol​-­­II​.pdf. Cit-

ing the same evidence, Lawrence Douglas calls this the “first public census of the Holocaust. Relying on the Nazis’ own data as well as on other population reports, the prosecution estimated the number of Jewish dead at 5.7 million . . .—­rounding the figure off to the canonical 6” (Lawrence Douglas, The Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust [New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001], 72). 8 IMT, 4:371, http://​www​.loc​.gov/​rr/​frd/​Military​_Law/​pdf/​NT​_Vol​-­­IV​.pdf. 9 Cited in Hilberg, “The Statistic,” in Furet, Unanswered Questions, 155. 10 See IMT, 19:405, http://​www​.loc​.gov/​rr/​frd/​Military​_Law/​pdf/​NT​_Vol​-XIX​ .pdf. 11 Peter Black, e-­mail message to author, February 24, 2012. 12 Ehrenburg wrote, “In the countries and regions captured, the Germans killed all the Jews: elderly people, babies. Ask a captured German on what ground his compatriots destroyed six million innocent people and he will answer: ‘They are Jews. They are black-­haired (or red-­haired). They have different blood.’” See Ilya Ehrenburg, “Pomnit´!” Pravda, December 17, 1944, 3, cited in Karel C. Berkhoff, “‘Total Annihilation of the Jewish Population’: The Holocaust in the Soviet Media, 1941–­45,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 10, no. 1 (Winter 2009): 70. My thanks to Olga Gershenson for this reference. 13 Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, revised and definitive ed. (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985), 1201n3; “Brand told Shertok that the Nazis hoped to divert the world’s attention from the killing of six million Jews by offering to release those millions still alive” (Arthur D. Morse, While Six Million Died: A Chronicle of American Apathy [New York: Random House, 1967], 356.) 14 “Give Refuge to Jews,” Sunday Times [London, England] January 24, 1943: 6, The Sunday Times Digital Archive, http://​find​.galegroup​.com/​stha/​infomark​.do?​&​ source​=g​ ale​&​prodId​=​STHA​&u​ serGroupName​=m ​ iam11506​&t​ abID​=T ​ 003​&​ docPage​=​article​&​searchType​=​AdvancedSearchForm​&d​ ocId​=F ​ P1800491723​&​ type​=​multipage​&​contentSet​=​LTO​&​version​=​1​.0. 15 Laurel Leff, Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 4. This confirmation occurred in the context of a declaration by British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden to the House of Commons on December 17, 1942. See Special to the New York Times, “11 Allies Condemn Nazi War on Jews,” New York Times (1923–­Current File), December 18, 1942, http://​www​.ProQuest​.com. 16 Cited in Leff, Buried, 157. 17 Compare Hilberg, Destruction, 3:1219–­1220, with Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, 3rd ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 3:1320–­1321. 18 See Donald L. Niewyk and Francis R. Nicosia, The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 45. 19 Peter Black, e-­mail message to author, February 24, 2012. 20 François Furet, “Preface,” in Furet, Unanswered Questions, viii. 21 Tom Segev, The Seventh Million, trans. Haim Watzman (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993), 140. 22 Berel Lang, “Holocaust Memory and Revenge: The Presence of the Past,” Jewish Social Studies n.s. 2, no. 2 (Winter 1996): 5. 23 Ibid., 5.

Notes to Pages 162–171  •  219 24 Segev, Seventh Million, 140; Lang does not cite the six million figure in his discus-

sion in “Holocaust Memory and Revenge.”

25 Ibid., 140. 26 Abba Kovner, cited in Segev, Seventh Million, 142; Segev, Seventh Million, 142. See

Numbers 31:2, in which Israel is told to attack the Midianites out of revenge for their previous aggression. See also Deuteronomy 32:35, in which God says “Vengeance is mine,” suggesting that revenge is ultimately a divine, not human, matter. 27 Segev, Seventh Million, 151. Although “Plan A” indeed failed—­Kovner was arrested while returning to Europe with the poison—­the Revenge Group’s Plan B, to poison German POWs with arsenic-­coated bread, was carried out in one American-­run camp near Nuremberg; reports of the outcome vary, but it appears the act led to no deaths; see Lang, “Holocaust Memory and Revenge,” 5–­6, and “2,283 Poisoned in Plot against SS Prisoners,” Miami Daily News, April 22, 1946, 1-­A. 28 Lang, “Holocaust Memory and Revenge,” 1, 3. 29 Segev, Seventh Million, 347–­348n. 30 Ibid., 11. 31 See James E. Young, The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 288. 32 Fred Blair, The Ashes of Six Million Jews (Milwaukee: People’s Book Shop, 1946). 33 Laura Jockusch, Collect and Record! Jewish Holocaust Documentation in Early Postwar Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 13. 34 Ibid., 129–­130. 35 Ibid., 143. 36 Deut. 25:17–­19. Quotations from Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1985). 37 Thanks to Avinoam Patt for bringing this poster to my attention. 38 Jockusch, Collect and Record!, 143–­144. 39 See Segev, Seventh Million, 432–­434. 40 Ibid., 347. 41 See Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved, trans. Raymond Rosenthal (New York: Summit Books, 1988). 42 Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), 134. 43 See Yael Zerubavel, “‘Numerical Commemoration’: The Mnemonic Value of Numbers in Contemporary Israel” (paper presented at The Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, March 19, 2012). 44 Cited in Hasia R. Diner, We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945–­1962 (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 42. 45 Cited in Diner, We Remember, 43. Incidentally, the Forest never reached its goal; see Segev, Seventh Million, 430n. On the issue of Israeli afforestation as Holocaust memorialization, see Oren Baruch Stier, Committed to Memory: Cultural Mediations of the Holocaust (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003), 179–­181. 46 See James E. Young, “When a Day Remembers: A Performative History of Yom Hashoah,” History and Memory 2 (Winter 1990): 54–­75. 47 “Seder Ritual of Remembrance for the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis and for the heroes of the Ghetto uprisings” (New York: Seder Ritual Committee, 1953); Diner, We Remember, 18–­20. Interestingly, the stage directions

220  •  Notes to Pages 171–174

for the “Seder Ritual” instruct those performing it to do so after the third cup of wine “just before the door is opened/for the symbolic entrance of the Prophet Elijah,” making no mention of the traditional Haggadah text read at this point, “Shfokh chamatcha,” “Pour out thy wrath,” the recitation of a wish that God punish the nations of the world for their ignorance of the divine. For more on the relationship between the Holocaust and the Haggadah, see Liora Gubkin, You Shall Tell Your Children: Holocaust Memory in American Passover Ritual (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007). For more on Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Faith, see, for example, Siddur Kol Yaakov/The Complete ArtScroll Siddur, Nusach Ashkenaz, 3rd ed., trans. Rabbi Nosson Scherman, coedited by Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz (New York: Mesorah, 1990), 178–­181. On the story of the melody, see “‘Ani Ma’amin’—­A Song of Ultimate Faith,” Stories, http://​www​.modzitz​.org/​ story001​.htm and Rav Tamir Granot, “Faith and the Holocaust: Lecture #27: Faith without ‘Ani Ma’amin’—­The Possibility of Faith without Hope,” The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash, http://​vbm​-­­torah​.org/​archive/​shoah/​27shoah​.htm​ #​_ftn1. Incidentally, “Ani Ma’amin” is also the title of another Hadag Nahash song, though only the refrain “ani ma’amin” shares anything with the classic statement of religious creed; the rest of the song is a litany of political criticism (see Hadag Nahash, “Ani Ma’amin,” directed by Gal Muggia, http://​vimeo​.com/​41743115 and Azzan Yadin-­Israel, “A Measure of Beauty,” Jewish Review of Books, no. 3 [Fall 2010]: 44–­45). 48 Lucia Meta Ruedenberg, “‘Remember 6,000,000’: Civic Commemoration of the Holocaust in New York City” (PhD diss., New York University, 1994), 24, ProQuest (304138818), citing Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 27 and 29, 1942. 49 Ibid., 278. 50 Diner, We Remember, 75. 51 Ruedenberg, “Remember 6,000,000,” 58. “Yizkor” derived from the Hebrew root for remembrance, is a prayer in honor of the dead usually recited by living relatives on the last days of every major Jewish holiday cycle. 52 Cited in Diner, We Remember, 78. 53 Ibid., 66–­67. 54 Ruedenberg, “Remember 6,000,000,” 62. 55 Diner, We Remember, 70. 56 Ruedenberg, “Remember 6,000,000,” 132. 57 Diner, We Remember, 76–­77. 58 Another example of the symbolic value of the number six can be perceived in a family planning practice occurring in some postwar Jewish families’ bearing six children, in memory of the six million. 59 Peter W. Schroeder and Dagmar Schroeder-­Hildebrand, Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial (Minneapolis: Kar-­Ben Publishing, 2004), 9. 60 Ibid., 10. 61 Daniel H. Magilow, “Counting to Six Million: Collecting Projects and Holocaust Memorialization,” Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, Society n.s. 14, no. 1 (Fall 2007): 24. 62 See Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001). 63 Schroeder and Schroeder-­Hildebrand, Six Million Paper Clips, 17–­19.

Notes to Pages 174–181  •  221 64 Dita Smith, “A Measure of Hope: The Whitwell, Tenn., Holocaust Project Has

Spread Far Beyond the Classroom,” Washington Post, April 7, 2001, C01.

65 Schroeder and Schroeder-­Hildebrand, Six Million Paper Clips, 22–­23. 66 Ibid., 26, 31. 67 Ibid., 55. 68 Magilow, “Counting to Six Million,” 26. 69 Ibid., 28. 70 Schroeder and Schroeder-­Hildebrand, Six Million Paper Clips, 56. 71 Ibid., 25. They actually did this twice: eleven million paper clips are housed in

the railcar, and another eleven million are sealed in a second eight-­foot-­high memorial, topped with statues of a boy and girl catching butterflies; see Schroeder and Schroeder-­Hildebrand, Six Million Paper Clips, 7, 56. 72 Deborah E. Lipstadt, The Eichmann Trial (New York: Nextbook/Schocken, 2011), 8–­10. 73 Ruedenberg, “Remember 6,000,000,” 282. 74 Michael Berenbaum, After Tragedy and Triumph: Modern Jewish Thought and the American Experience (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 38–­39. 75 Yehuda Bauer, “Whose Holocaust?” Midstream 26, no. 9 (November 1980): 43, 46. Ruedenberg notes that Bauer was a “consultant to the planned museum in Washington D.C.” that arose from the President’s Commission. 76 Geneviève Zubrzycki, The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in Post-­ Communist Poland (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 114–­115. 77 Quoted in Zubrzycki, Crosses of Auschwitz, 115. 78 Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009), 3, 11. 79 The “six million” figure has also been used polemically. One of the best-­known examples of this is the 1967 volume by Arthur Morse, While Six Million Died: A Chronicle of American Apathy (New York: Random House, 1967), an impassioned critique of United States and Allied inaction, with a declared purpose to focus on the bystanders and, specifically, American governmental responses, or lack thereof, to the mounting crisis facing European Jewry from Hitler’s rise onward. One can also observe the rhetorical use of the figure in Blair, Ashes. 80 Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (New York: The Free Press, 1993), 51. 81 Ibid., 56–­57. 82 Ibid., 66. Lipstadt cites the source as a June 1959 article titled “Into the Valley of Death Rode the Six Million. Or Did They?” Two other American deniers with similar views are mentioned: Benjamin H. Freedman and George Lincoln Rockwell. 83 Quoted in Ibid., 75; the italics are Lipstadt’s. 84 Ibid., 90, 93. 85 Ibid., 97. 86 Ibid., 86. 87 Ibid., 99–­100. The eight axioms can be found in Austin J. App, The Six Million Swindle: Blackmailing the German People for Hard Marks with Fabricated Corpses (Tacoma Park, MD: Boniface Press, 1973), 18–­19. 88 Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, 104–­106. See The Myth of the Six Million (Los Angeles: Noontide Press, 1973) and Richard Harwood, Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last (London: Historical Review Press, 1974). In 1969 Hoggan “sued

222  •  Notes to Pages 182–190

Noontide Press for damages, claiming authorship of The Myth of the Six Million” (Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, 105). Incidentally, Harwood also joined others in attacking the credibility of The Diary of Anne Frank (Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, 118). 89 Arthur Suzman and Denis Diamond, Six Million Did Die: The Truth Shall Prevail ( Johannesburg: South African Jewish Board of Deputies, 1977). See also Milton Shain, “South Africa,” in The World Reacts to the Holocaust, ed. David S. Wyman (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 682. 90 Jodi Rudoren, “Holocaust Told in One Word, 6 Million Times,” New York Times, January 26, 2014, 1. 91 Ibid., 12. For Yad Vashem’s project, see Yad Vashem, “The Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project,” Remembrance, http://​www​.yadvashem​.org/​yv/​en/​remembrance/​names/ and Yad Vashem, “Today: Opening of New Permanent Exhibition SHOAH in Block 27 at Auschwitz-­Birkenau Curated by Yad Vashem,” Press Room, June 13, 2013, http://​www​.yadvashem​.org/​yv/​en/​pressroom/​pressreleases/​pr​ _details​.asp​?cid​=​795; see also Carol Kidron, “Breathing Life into Iconic Numbers: Yad Vashem’s ‘Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project’ and the Constitution of a Posthumous Census of Six Million Holocaust Dead” (paper presented at the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, March 19, 2012).

Conclusion: Looking Again at Holocaust Icons 1 Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age

of Decolonization (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009), 29.

2 Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture after

the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 33; italics in original.

3 Sara R. Horowitz, “Literary Afterlives of Anne Frank,” in Anne Frank Unbound:

Media, Imagination, Memory, ed. Barbara Kishenblatt-­Gimblett and Jeffrey Shandler (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012), 245; italics in original. 4 Barbie Zelizer, Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory through the Camera’s Eye (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 204. 5 W. J. T. Mitchell, Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 420; italics in original. 6 Margaret R. Miles, Image as Insight: Visual Understanding in Western Christianity and Secular Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985), 37–­38. 7 See, in this regard, W. J. T. Mitchell, Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986). 8 Miles, Image, 9. 9 Elizabeth Zelensky and Lela Gilbert, Windows to Heaven: Introducing Icons to Protestants and Catholics (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005), 23. 10 For an extensive discussion of the concept of idolatry in Judaism, see Moshe Halbertal and Avishai Margalit, Idolatry, trans. Naomi Goldblum (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992). 11 A. O. Scott, “Eichmann’s Rabbi Gazes Backward,” review of The Last of the Unjust, directed by Claude Lanzmann, New York Times, February 7, 2014, C10.

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Page numbers in italics refer to figures. 263 Prinsengracht (Amsterdam), 102–­103. See also Anne Frank House 6,000,000. See “six million” Abosch, Sara, 47 Acre Experimental Theater Group, 94–­96 ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power), 24, 25 Agosín, Marjorie, 119, 135, 186 Alexander, Jeffrey C., 7 Alone (Bak), 26 Altusky, Hirsch, 177 Amalek, 165, 166, 167 American flag, as symbol, 9 American Jewish Congress, 170, 172 Amis, Martin, 99; Time’s Arrow, 99 Amishai-­Maisels, Ziva, 18–­19 “Ani Ma’amin” (song), 170–­171, 219–­220n47 Anne (Museum of Tolerance exhibition), 104, 145, 149; replica of movable bookcase at, 104 Anne Frank: A Private Photo Album (exhibition), 125, 127, 130–­133 Anne Frank Center USA, 104; model of Secret Annex at, 104

Anne Frank House, 102–­104, 105–­106, 131; Anne Frank’s bedroom, 103–­104; attic, 104, 143, 207n12; exhibitions by, 123, 125; movable bookcase, 103, 150; Secret Annex, 103, 114–­115, 125–­126, 143, 207n20; virtual visit to, 206n5; website of, 104 Anne Frank in the World, 1929–­1945 (exhibition), 115, 123–­125 Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, 106, 132; covers of, 119–­120, 120, 128, 135, 209n45; editing process of, 111, 114, 117; ending of, 114–­115, 133, 139, 140, 211n73; variorum edition of, 106, 113, 114, 206n5. See also entries for Diary of Anne Frank Anne Frank: The Whole Story (ABC mini-­ series), 146–­147, 212n92 Anne Frank the Writer: An Unfinished Story (USHMM exhibition), 117–­118, 211n81, 211n83 Anne in New York (Schreiber), 136 App, Austin J., 180–­181 “Arbeit macht frei”: in art, 83–­89, 83, 86, 88; at Auschwitz, 69, 75–­76, 79–­81, 80, 82, 85–­86, 90, 97–­99; Auschwitz version as setting for Soviet film, 79–­81, 82; at Buchenwald, 70; at Dachau, 77–­78, 77; 231

232  •  Index

“Arbeit macht frei” (continued) in “Dachau Lied,” 77–­78; digital manipulation of Auschwitz I version, 94, 95; expressing Nazi logic, 69, 75–­76, 81; at Flossenburg, 70, 71; Jews and, 74–­75, 79, 81, 84; origins of phrase, 70–­72; as phrase, 68–­72, 75–­76, 77–­78, 84, 87–­89, 93, 99, 188, 203n24; replicas of Auschwitz I version, 90, 91, 92, 92–­93, 97; at Sachsenhausen, 70; as the sign of Auschwitz, 76, 81, 98–­99; staged exit through, 79–­81, 82, 90–­91; at Theresienstadt, 70, 71 Arbeit Macht Frei (Stella), 83–­85, 83 Arbeit Macht Frei vom Toitland Europa (Ma’ayan), 94–­96 Arbeit Macht Frei/Work Makes Who Free? ( J. Chicago), 87–­89, 88 artifacts: conservation of, 48, 55, 98–­99, 98; at the FHM, 57–­58; of the Holocaust, 2, 15–­16, 35–­40, 61–­62, 198n16; reconstruction of, 46–­47; at the USHMM, 52–­53 Auguststrasse (Berlin), 66 Auschwitz Album, The, 39, 75 Auschwitz-­Birkenau, 15, 39; State Museum at, 98–­99, 183 Auschwitz I: “Arbeit macht frei” sign at, 68–­69, 75–­76, 79–­83, 80, 82, 85–­87, 86, 90–­92; “selfies” at, 91; theft of sign from, 97–­99, 98 Auslander, Shalom, 151–­152; Hope: A Tragedy, 151–­152 Austria, Maria, 103 authentication, of Holocaust materials, 5, 36, 47, 52, 185, 187 authenticity, 34, 86, 93, 155, 185; of Holocaust materials, 5, 16, 36, 44–­45, 50–­53, 199n33 Axelrod, David, 197n8 badges, identification, 20–­21, 23–­24 Bak, Samuel, 26–­27; Alone, 26 Barnes, Harry Elmer, 180 Barnouw, David, 209n42 Bartmanski, Dominic, 7 Bauer, Yehuda, 177–­178 Ben-­Gurion, David, 163 Berenbaum, Michael, 90

Bergen-­Belsen, 115, 143, 147, 150, 152, 210n73 Bergmann, Karl, 74 Berryman, John, 144 Bettelheim, Bruno, 143, 145, 215n151 Black, Peter, 217n3 Black Paintings (Stella), 83–­85, 83 Blair, Fred, 164 Bolkestein, Gerrit, 107, 108 Bolkosky, Sidney, 123 box cars. See railway cars Brand, Joel, 159–­160, 218n13 Brandenburg Gate (Berlin), 89, 204n46 Brink, Cornelia, 12 Brock, Gary, 41–­42, 64 Brookhart, Smith W., 158 Brückner, Wolfgang, 70, 72–­73, 74, 76, 202n6 Buchenwald, 70 Bukiet, Melvin Jules, 93–­94, 97; Nothing Makes You Free, 93–­94, 95 Buruma, Ian, 141, 214n127 Bush, Laura, 117 Cain, 168–­169 Carter, Jimmy, 177 cattle wagons, 33. See also railway cars Cauvern, Albert, 111 Cauvern, Isa, 111 Central Historical Commission (Munich), 164–­165 Charnow, Sally, 106, 110, 111, 112–­113, 206n5, 209n42 Chernofsky, Phil, 182–­183 Chicago, Judy, 27, 87–­89, 93, 97; Arbeit Macht Frei/Work Makes Who Free?, 88; Holocaust Project, 27, 87–­89, 88 Cohen, Jeff, 197n11 Cole, Tim, 100, 195n35, 198n17 collective memory. See Holocaust: cultural memory of commodification, 29, 58; of human body, 37, 176 concentration camp entrance, 69, 79, 85–­86, 90. See also “Arbeit macht frei” Contact (Dutch publisher), 113–­114 counting, 154–­156, 175. See also “six million” cross, as symbol, 9, 23

Index  •  233

Cywiński, Piotr M. A., 98

Dwork, Debórah, 69, 79

Dachau, 70, 76–­79, 77 “Dachau Lied: ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’” (Soyfer and Zipper), 77–­78 Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center (DHMC), 43–­45, 62 Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance (DHMCET), 43, 45–­47, 46 Days of Remembrance, 177 Dead Sea Scrolls, 105 Dear Anne Frank (Agosín), 119, 186 de Certeau, Michel, 40 deportation: experience of, 35–­36, 45, 53; railway cars symbolizing, 19, 35, 39–­40, 45, 48, 51, 52, 58–­61 Deutsche Reichsbahn. See railway cars Diamond, Denis, 182 Diary of Anne Frank, The (BBC mini-­series), 146, 147 Diary of Anne Frank, The (film), 123, 137, 141–­144, 146; Jewish-­Christian relations and, 142–­144 Diary of Anne Frank, The (play), 137, 138–­141, 143, 145–­146 Diary of Anne Frank, The: The Critical Edition, 106, 112, 113, 114, 116, 146 Diary of Anne Frank, The: The Revised Critical Edition, 106, 113, 114, 211n77 Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, 106, 114, 116–­117, 146, 211n76 Diefenbach, Lorenz, 72 Different Trains (Reich), 32–­34, 67 Diner, Hasia, 137, 169–­170, 172 Displaced Persons’ (DP) camps, 164–­167, 166, 167 displacement of Holocaust artifacts, 38, 41, 63–­64 Distel, Herbert, 197n8 Dlin, Elliott, 46 doctrine, Holocaust and religious, 41–­42 domestication of Holocaust artifacts, 41, 58–­59, 201n64 Doneson, Judith, 100, 138, 139, 142–­144, 215n148 Douglas, Lawrence, 36–­37, 218n7

Ehrenburg, Ilya, 159, 218n12 Eichmann, Adolf, 156–­159; trial in Jerusalem, 37, 158, 168 Eicke, Theodor, 24, 70. See also “Arbeit macht frei” eikon. See icon eleven million, 63, 177–­178, 179, 221n71. See also “six million” emplacement of Holocaust artifacts, 36, 38, 40–­41, 43, 45 Englander, Nathan, 216n173 Enzer, Hyman, 108 ethical imperative, Holocaust and, 42–­43, 62 evidence: photographs as, 5; used at the IMT, 36–­37 exhibitions. See museum displays Ezrahi, Sidra, 69 Fastag, Azriel David, 170–­171 fetishization of Holocaust objects, 38, 59, 63, 67 Filipović, Zlata, 186 five million, as estimated number of Jewish Holocaust victims, 158, 161 Florida Holocaust Museum (FHM), 54–­59, 56, 57, 62–­63 Flossenburg, 71 Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 32 Frank, Anne (Annelies Marie): Americanization of, 100, 138–­141, 146; arrest of, 103, 105, 111, 133, 139; death of, 115, 116, 134, 147, 149–­151; de-­Judaization of, 100, 138, 139, 142–­146; identification with, 105, 210n70; imagined survival of, 115, 134, 135, 149–­152; Jewish identity of, 138–­139, 142–­143, 145–­146; manipulation of images of, 134, 134, 136, 186; photographs of, 119–­135, 120, 122, 123, 124, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134; religious terms applied to, 136, 138, 140–­141, 144–­145, 147–­149, 150, 211n73, 215n149; as saint or martyr, 147–­149; as symbol of Holocaust victimization, 100–­101, 119, 136–­137, 143, 147–­149;

234  •  Index

Frank, Anne (Annelies Marie) (continued) universalization of, 100, 135, 138, 139–­141, 145–­146, 147; viewed as a child, 118, 123–­125, 134–­135, 144–­146, 151. See also Anne Frank House Frank, Anne, as writer, 116–­118, 147; addressing diary as Kitty, 108, 109, 110, 209nn41,42; desire to publish, 108–­109; explicit passages in diary, 110, 111, 112–­113, 208n28, 210n65, 211n76; first diary notebook, 106, 107, 120–­122, 122–­124, 126–­127, 142; “Give” essay, 117–­118, 211n81; Het Achterhuis, 109, 111, 114, 149–­150; process of writing, 106–­107, 108, 110; revisions to diary, 106, 109, 112–­113; Verhaaltjesboek, 118. See also Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl; Diary of Anne Frank, The Frank, Edith, 118 Frank, Margot, 142, 147 Frank, Otto, 110–­114, 139; photographs by, 125–­127, 131–­132; role in editing diary, 110, 111–­113, 117, 118, 209n49, 209–­210n50, 210n59 Frank family, 126–­127, 131–­133, 213n102 Friedlander, Albert, 134–­135 Friedlander, Henry, 72 Friedman, Michelle A., 197n8 Friedrich, Otto, 76 Gateways of the Germans (Memorial for One Night), The (Hoheisel), 89, 204n46 Geertz, Clifford, 9, 64 Ghost Writer (Roth), 138–­139, 149–­151 Gies, Miep, 110–­111, 139 Gilbert, Lela, 10 Glauben, Max, 44 Godfrey, Mark, 26 Goebbels, Joseph, 202n6 Goldberg, Vicki, 12 Goldman, Steve, 55, 57 Gombrich, E. H., 11 Goodrich, Frances, 139, 141 Gordon, Douglas, 16–­17 Gottwaldt, Alfred, 39, 52, 55, 197n16, 198n17, 199n29

Hackett, Albert, 139, 141 Hadag Nahash, 153–­155; “Misparim” (“Numbers”), 153–­155 hair, as Holocaust symbol, 35, 176 Hamacher, Werner, 73, 75–­76 Hansen-­Glucklich, Jennifer, 42–­43 Harriman, John, 11–­12 Hartman, Geoffrey, 21–­22 Harwood, Richard E. See Verrall, Richard Hausner, Gideon, 168–­169 head, shrunken, as evidence, 37 Hellman, Peter, 74–­75 Het Achterhuis (A. Frank), 109, 111, 114, 149–­150 Hilberg, Raul, 37, 40, 53, 153, 160–­161 Himmler, Heinrich, 157 Hirsch, Marianne, 2–­3, 5, 14, 85–­86, 93, 119, 130, 135, 136–­137, 186, 203n24, 205n53, 210n70, 212n87 historical accuracy of USHMM displays, 50, 52–­54. See also United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Hitler, Adolf, 22, 72, 159; ideal of work and, 73–­74 Hofmann, Ernst, 39 Hoggan, David, 181 Hogstrom, Anders, 97–­98 Hoheisel, Horst, 89, 204n46; The Gateways of the Germans (Memorial for One Night), 89, 204n46 Holocaust: cultural memory of, 3–­4, 38, 79, 137; denial of, 179–­182; memory of as distinct from history, 4, 69–­70, 96; in music, 32–­34; sacred qualities of, 36, 42–­43, 63; strategies for memorializing, 3, 9, 41, 62–­64, 175–­176; testimonies by survivors of, 32–­33; in the visual arts, 3, 17, 18–­20, 26, 26–­27, 29–­31, 30, 65, 65–­67, 83–­89, 88, 136 “Holocaustism,” 41–­42, 64 Holocaust Memorial Center (Farmington Hills, MI), 92–­93, 92 Holocaust Project ( J. Chicago), 27, 87–­89, 88 Homomonument (Amsterdam), 28 Hooper, Linda, 173–­174 Hope: A Tragedy (Auslander), 151–­152 Horowitz, Sara R., 186, 211n83, 216n169

Index  •  235

Höss, Rudolf, 76 Höttl, Wilhelm, 156–­157 Huener, Jonathan, 69 human remains. See commodification; hair, as Holocaust symbol; head, shrunken, as evidence; relics; remnants of the Holocaust; soap, as evidence Huttenbach, Henry, 119 Hynes, Samuel, 85 icon (Christian): definition of, 10; compared to Holocaust icons, 11, 190; purpose of, 189–­190 iconicity: definition of, 7; of photographs, 12, 187 icons: contemplation of, 190–­191; definitions of, 6, 7–­8, 12; devotion and, 10, 12; as distinct from symbols, 6–­8, 31; function of, 7, 10; identification and, 7; Jewish, 189–­190; materiality of, 6–­7; photographic, 11–­12, 187; religious, 11; as religious symbols, 9–­11, 188–­189; as sacred relics, 9–­10, 186; secular, 12; as tools, 20, 184–­185 icons, Holocaust: authenticity and, 185; compared to Christian icons, 189–­190; definition of, 5–­6; function of, 2–­3, 184–­185, 188; variety of, 68, 184 identification with Holocaust victims: Anne Frank and, 101, 119, 126, 135–­137, 142, 144, 148; “Arbeit macht frei” and, 90, 97; Holocaust icons and, 187; railway cars and, 45, 53, 58, 63; the “six million” and, 169; symbolic badges and, 20–­21 idolatry, 42, 189, 222n10 incarnation (Christian), 10 index, definition of, 7–­8 initiation, experience of, 45–­46, 81, 87, 90 Institute for Historical Review, 180–­181. See also Holocaust: denial of International Military Tribunal (IMT) of major Nazi war criminals, Nuremberg, 36–­37, 156–­159, 161 Irwin-­Zarecka, Iwona, 178 Jackson, Robert H., 157–­159 Jacobs, Janet Liebman, 16

Jacobs, Mike, 43–­45 January 27, 1945 (Soviet liberation of Auschwitz), 80, 89 “Jedem das Seine,” 70, 202n6. See also “Arbeit macht frei” Jewish Board of Deputies (South Africa), 182 Jewish National Fund, 170 Jewish star. See Star of David Jockusch, Laura, 164 Joop ter Heul series (van Marxveldt), 109, 209n41 Judaism, religious objects in, 189–­190 Katz-­Freiman, Tami, 96 Kemp, Martin, 8, 10, 22 Kesselman, Wendy, 215n150 Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot, 96 Kleiman, Johannes, 102 Koonz, Claudia, 73 Kovner, Abba, 162–­163 Kraushaar Galleries (New York), 125, 130 Kristallnacht, 66, 78 Kushner, Tony, 106 Kuśmirowski, Robert, 65–­67, 93; Wagon, 65–­67, 65, 93 labor. See work Lang, Berel, 162–­163 Langer, Lawrence, 26, 140, 210n72, 215n149 Lanzmann, Claude, 40; Shoah, 40 Le Cyclop (Tinguely), 66 Leff, Laurel, 160 Lestchinsky, Jacob, 159 Levi, Primo, 168 Levie, Victor, 125, 131–­132 Levin, Meyer, 139 Levin, Yitzhak Meir, 163 Liberation of Auschwitz 1945 (film), 79–­81, 82 Lili Jacob album. See Auschwitz Album, The Linenthal, Edward, 47 Lipstadt, Deborah, 177, 179–­181, 221n82 Liwacz, Jan, 79 Loebenberg, Walter, 54 Lucaites, John Louis, 11–­12 Lüdtke, Alf, 73, 74

236  •  Index

Luebke, David, 52 Ma’ayan, David, 94–­96, 97; Arbeit Macht Frei vom Toitland Europa, 94–­96 Magen David. See Star of David Magilow, Daniel, 175–­176 Manischewitz, as brand, 30 Manischewitz Luger (Sachs), 29–­31, 30 March of the Living, 91, 97, 204n33 Marcus, Warren, 53 “Martyr’s Forest” ( Jerusalem), 170, 219n45 matzoh, in art, 30 Maus (Spiegelman), 5, 29, 85–­87, 86 memento mori, Holocaust and, 18–­19 Memorial to the Deportees (Safdie), 59–­61, 60 Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (competition), 89 memorials, Holocaust, 28, 35, 40, 66, 90–­91 memory: as multidirectional, 179, 185–­186; as sacred, 4; shapes of, 21–­22. See also Holocaust: cultural memory of Mendelsohn, Daniel, 169 metonym: Anne Frank as, 138; definition of, 3; as mode of representation, 15, 35 Mieder, Wolfgang, 72, 74, 202n6 Miles, Margaret, 13–­14, 188 Mirroring Evil (exhibition), 2, 29, 31, 201n64 “Misparim” (Hadag Nahash), 153–­155 Mitchell, W. J. T., 12–­13, 187–­188 Müller, Melissa, 107, 112, 118, 146 Muschamp, Herbert, 93 museum displays, 15–­16, 29, 35, 38, 41, 64; at the Anne Frank House, 103–­105; at the DHMC/DHMCET, 44–­47, 46, 62; at the FHM, 54–­58, 56, 62–­63; at the USHMM, 36, 47–­50, 51, 54, 62 Museum of Tolerance (Los Angeles), 104 Nahshon, Edna, 137, 138 Names Recovery Project (Yad Vashem), 183 Nazi party flag. See swastika Nazi public language, 72 Nazism, work and, 72–­76 Nele, E. R., 198n17, 199n29 Neuberger, Julia, 115 New York Times, 159–­160, 182 Nicoletti, L. J., 133–­134

Nothing Makes You Free (Bukiet), 93–­94, 95 Nowakowski, Jacek, 47 numbers, transformation of, 156. See also “six”; “six million” Nuremberg Trials. See International Military Tribunal Nussbaum, Laureen, 111, 112, 113, 116 Ophir, Adi, 42, 64 Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue (Berlin), 66 Ortner, Sherry, 8–­9 Oyneg Shabes archive, 6, 35 Ozick, Cynthia, 112, 114, 115, 211n73 Pagis, Dan, 60–­61 paper clips. See Whitwell, TN, paper clips project Passover and the Holocaust, 170, 172, 220n47 Patraka, Vivian, 40 Peirce, Charles Sanders, 7–­8 Perkins, Millie, 137, 142, 145 Pfeffer, Fritz, 103, 118 Phojoe company, 134, 151 photographs of family, used as evidence, 5 pictures, theory of, 13 pilgrimage. See tourism pink triangle, 185; in art, 27; in the Holocaust, 24; in Holocaust memorials, 28; as Holocaust symbol, 20–­21, 27–­28 place, compared to space, 40 postmemory, 2, 3, 14, 135; affiliative, 14, 34, 130–­131, 186. See also Hirsch, Marianne Prose, Francine, 100, 104, 106, 110–­113, 115, 121, 126, 145–­146, 208n28, 209n45, 209n49, 211n76, 213n102 Prosono, Marvin, 41–­42, 64 proverbs, 72, 74, 202n6. See also “Arbeit macht frei” Pulitzer Prize, 137, 140 Quinn, Laura L., 103, 105–­106 railway cars: in art, 55–­57, 57, 59, 60, 61, 65, 65–­67; authenticity of, 44, 48, 50–­5 3, 64, 66–­67, 199nn33,34; at the

Index  •  237

DHMC/DHMCET, 43–­47, 46, 62; educational use of, 53; at the FHM, 54–­58, 56, 57, 62–­63; “Karlsruhe”-­type, 39, 39, 47, 48; in music, 32–­34; symbolizing shift in Nazi policies, 40, 44, 47; at the USHMM, 36, 47–­54, 49, 62; at Whitwell, TN, 174–­177; at Yad Vashem, 59–­61, 60, 63 Rassinier, Paul, 180 Reich, Steve, 32–­34, 67; Different Trains, 32–­34, 67 relics: of the Holocaust, 35–­37, 176, 194n16; of the Holocaust in art, 19; sacred, 9, 16, 36 religion: definition of, 9; Holocaust and, 41–­42, 64; as a way of seeing, 13–­14 remnants of the Holocaust, 15–­16, 35, 37, 176. See also relics replicas of railway cars, 58, 63, 65, 65–­67 restoration of railway cars, 48 “Revenge Group” (“Irgun ha-­Nakam”), 162 ring, as Holocaust artifact, 55, 56, 58, 63 Ringelblum, Emmanuel, 6, 35 Roberts, Sandra, 174 Rosenfeld, Alvin, 100–­101, 115, 116, 137, 138, 140, 144, 210n73 Roskies, David, 6 Roth, Philip, 138–­139, 149–­151; Ghost Writer, 138–­139, 149–­151 Rothberg, Michael, 178–­179, 185 Rothstein, Edward, 104 Rubenstein, Richard, 198n26 Rudoren, Jodi, 182–­183 Ruedenberg, Lucia, 171, 177 Sachs, Tom, 29–­31; Manischewitz Luger, 29–­31, 30 Safdie, Moshe, 59–­61; Memorial to the Deportees, 59–­61, 60 Sagan, Alex, 140, 215n152 Saltzman, Lisa, 29–­30, 84 sanctity, aura of, 16, 36, 38 Schreiber, Rachel, 136; Anne in New York, 136 Schroeder, Peter and Dagmar, 174 Scott, A. O., 190 secondary witness, 34, 67 Second Generation, 94

Sedaris, David, 207n20 Segev, Tom, 161–­164 Shandler, Jeffrey, 110, 112, 122, 206n5, 209n45, 209n49, 210n59 She’erit Hapletah (“surviving remnant”), 164 Shertok, Moshe, 160, 218n13 Shilansky, Dov, 163–­164 Shoah (Lanzmann), 40 shoes, as Holocaust symbols, 15, 15–­16, 17–­18, 35 Shrine of the Book (Israel Museum, Jerusalem), 105 Shuldenreyn, P., 165 Silberbauer, Josef, 104 SILENCE=DEATH slogan and poster, 24, 25 “six”: as distillation of “six million,” 155, 171, 172; practicality of using, 173; as symbol, 171; used memorially, 171–­173 “six million”: accounting for the total number of Jewish Holocaust victims, 156–­157, 159–­161, 170, 173; as basis for commemoration, 165–­167, 170, 173–­174; as basis for revenge, 162–­163, 167; counting to, 155–­156, 175, 182–­183; difficulty in imagining, 175–­176, 182; Holocaust denial and, 179–­182; Jewish identity and, 164, 168, 176, 178–­179; preceded by “the,” 169–­171; power of, 154–­155, 162, 170; represented visually, 165–­167, 166, 167, 182; representing Polish World War II losses, 178–­179; State of Israel and, 153–­155, 163–­164, 168; symbolism of, 155, 163–­164, 167, 168–­170, 173, 175, 179, 182–­183; United States and, 169–­172, 177 slavery, American, 87 slogan, 69, 70, 72, 74–­79, 81, 83–­84, 87, 97, 148. See also “Arbeit macht frei” Smirnov, L. N., 37 Smith, David, 174 Smith, Gerald L. K., 180 Smith, Martin, 48, 50 Smolen, Kazimierz, 90 soap, as evidence, 37 Solotaroff-­Enzer, Sandra, 108 Soviet Union, 79–­81 Soyfer, Jura, 76–­77

238  •  Index

space: compared to place, 40; as sacred, 36, 42, 57 spectatorship, 13–­15 “speech melodies.” See Reich, Steve Spiegelman, Art, 5, 29, 85–­87, 97; Maus, 5, 29, 85–­87, 86 Star of David: in art, 26–­27; history of, 23; as Holocaust symbol, 20–­21, 24, 26; as symbol, 23, 27, 31, 173; Zionism and, 23, 24 Steinfeld, Hailee, 104 Stella, Frank, 83–­85, 97, 204n39; Arbeit Macht Frei, 83; Black Paintings, 83–­85 Stevens, George, 137, 146 Stone, Dan, 91–­92 Strasberg, Susan, 137 Street, Sha’anan, 153–­154, 217n2 Struk, Janina, 91 Subcarpathian Rus, Jews from, 39, 39 Suzman, Arthur, 182 swastika: in art, 29–­30, 31, 83, 84; as Aryan symbol, 22; history of, 22–­23; as Holocaust symbol, 20–­21; restricting use of, 28–­29; as symbol, 22–­23, 28–­29 symbol, definition of, 7–­9, 11, 194n15 symbolization, process of, 5 symbols: authenticity of, 5, 6–­7, 12; encoding of, 14–­15; function of, 8–­9; graphic, 20, 31; of the Holocaust, 2, 5, 15, 17–­21, 31, 184; of the Holocaust in art, 18–­19, 29–­31; power and, 21; religious, 9, 11; repetition of, 3, 12; restricting use of, 28–­29; as sacred, 9; use of, 3–­4 “Tag des Gedenkens an die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus” (“Day of Remembrance of the Victims of National Socialism”), 89 Tampa Bay Holocaust Memorial Museum and Educational Center. See Florida Holocaust Museum tattoos, as Holocaust symbols, 16–­18, 195n35 Theresienstadt, 71 threshold, symbolism of, 69–­70, 79, 85–­86, 96–­97, 99. See also “Arbeit macht frei” Time’s Arrow (Amis), 99 Tinguely, Jean, 66; Le Cyclop, 66 Torah scrolls, as Holocaust artifacts, 35

Torchin, Leshu, 142, 145, 147, 214n121, 216n153 tourism: to the Anne Frank House, 102; to Auschwitz, 68, 91–­92 trauma, legacy of, 14 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), 6, 26, 35, 47–­50, 52–­54, 62, 160; Anne Frank the Writer exhibition at, 117–­118, 211n81, 211n83; displays at, 6, 35, 36, 48–­50, 51, 54, 90, 91, 127; position of in nation’s capital, 54, 200n57 van der Stroom, Gerrold, 111, 116, 208n27, 209n50, 211n77 van Kooten, Jan, 125 van Marxveldt, Cissij, 109; Joop ter Heul series, 109, 209n41 van Pels, Peter, 108, 113, 118, 141–­142, 143 van Pelt, Robert Jan, 69, 79 Verhaaltjesboek (A. Frank), 118 Verrall, Richard (pseud. Richard E. Harwood), 181–­182 Waaldijk, Berteke, 209n41 Wagon (Kuśmirowski), 65, 65–­67, 93 Walsh, William F., 156–­157 Walter, Bernhard, 39 war production, work and, 74 Warsaw Ghetto: boy from, 119, 212n87; uprising as basis for Holocaust commemoration, 171–­172 Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization (WAGRO), 172, 177 Werb, Shari, 53 Westra, Hans, 102 Whitwell Children’s Holocaust Memorial, 174–­175, 177 Whitwell, TN, paper clips project, 173–­177, 178, 221n71 Wiesenthal, Simon, 104, 177 William E. Wiener Oral History Library (New York Public Library), 32 Wires, Richard, 74 Wisliceny, Dieter, 158 witness, role of, 14 witnessing, vicarious, 14

Index  •  239

Wlodarski, Amy Lynn, 33–­34, 67, 204n39 work: as Aryan, 73; German tradition of, 78, 97; Jews and, 73–­74; Nazi ideals of, 72–­76, 81; völkische ideals of, 72–­73; in Weimar era, 73 Woronzow, Alexander, 80 “Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway Car” (Pagis), 60 Yad Vashem, 59–­61, 60, 63, 167, 167, 183 yellow star. See Star of David

Yishuv, 162–­163 “Yom Hashoah ve-­Hagevurah” (“Holocaust and Heroism Day”), 154 Young, James E., 1–­2, 102, 105, 138, 144, 207n12 Zelensky, Elizabeth, 10 Zelizer, Barbie, 12, 187 Zipper, Herbert, 76–­77 Zubrzycki, Geneviève, 178 Zyklon B, 37

About the Author

is an associate professor of Religious Studies and the director of the Holocaust Studies Initiative at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. He is the author of Committed to Memory: Cultural Mediations of the Holocaust (2003) and coeditor with J. Shawn Landres of Religion, Violence, Memory, and Place (2006). Stier has been a Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In 2013 he guest-­curated the exhibition Race and Visual Culture under National Socialism at The Wolfsonian Teaching Gallery at FIU’s Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum. OREN BARUCH STIER